Regional Quests flying as rival hotels shut down

Room occupancies in Quest’s 140 city and rural properties are averaging about 35%.
Room occupancies in Quest’s 140 city and rural properties are averaging about 35%.

While CBD hotels in Sydney, Brisbane and Melbourne are shutting, Quest Apartment ­Hotels reports the franchisee-owned company is picking up lots of rural business during the coronavirus pandemic, particularly in Western Australia and the ­regional NSW towns of Goulburn, Orange and Tamworth.

Room occupancies in Quest’s 140 city and rural properties, ­encompassing about 11,000 rooms in Australia, are averaging around 35%.

But Quest chief operating officer David Mansfield says some of its rural properties are reporting occupancies of 50-60%, ­although still well below normal levels.

“There’s a real need to put families into serviced apartments for voluntary isolation, or executives need serviced apartments, particularly in rural areas as their company has relocated them from a mine, for instance,” Mansfield told The Weekend Australian, adding that about 42% of Quest properties were in regional areas.

“And for some, staying in a serviced apartment is an alternative to not going home and possibly infecting their families.

“When it comes to providing accommodation for government infrastructure works, health and medical services personnel, business has spiked.”

However, Mansfield quips that Quest is rewriting its business continuity program on an hourly basis as the effects of COVID-19 and isolation policies continually change.

Unlike other hotel operators such as Accor, which has closed about 20 of its 400-strong network in Australia and New Zealand, Quest — which was founded by Melbourne businessman Paul Constantinou in 1988 and is now partially owned by Singapore’s Ascott Group — has not closed any properties.

But it has required its 90 head office staff in Melbourne to take a 10% pay cut across the board.

Two of Quest’s larger properties on the Sydney CBD fringe may be used to accommodate ­returning international passengers. Quest has also offered the NSW Health Department eight to 10 properties.

But not everyone is benefiting from the federal government ­largesse.

While hotels in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane are getting some federal government quarantine work, hotels in Adelaide will not benefit as there are no international flights to that city.

The federal government is using several Accor hotels for the 8000 or so returning Australians who are still overseas and will be required to undergo a two-week quarantine.

“Hospitality staff are stepping up to help care for returning Australians in isolation,” Accor chief operating officer Simon McGrath says.

“These staff join the medical heroes as major contributors in caring for Australians.

“We are following government and health protocols to ensure the safety of hotel employees while they take on these very important roles. Many have volunteered to assist.”

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