By Robert A. Gilbert, CHME, CHBA, President and CEO, Hospitality Sales & Marketing Association International (HSMAI)
“What is one concrete, positive change you or your company has implemented as a result of the crisis that will be instrumental to recovery?”
We asked participants at the six virtual Executive Roundtable programs we hosted as part of HSMAI Road to Recovery 2020 to answer this question. While each group had its own unique responses they also overlapped in four key areas: communication, collaboration, agility, and employee wellbeing. These common results offer an intriguing — and encouraging — look at how the pandemic is reshaping the hospitality industry in ways that are sure to have a lasting if not permanent impact:
As you can see, in more cases than not, hotel sales, marketing, revenue, digital, and loyalty executives paint a similar picture of how their companies have responded to the pandemic:
Communication: This is a little obvious but no less important. Companies regularly checking in with employees to share information about the crisis have created more robust communication channels, leading to stronger team cohesion — and several other positive changes that our Executive Roundtable attendees shared.
Collaboration: Our industry has been talking about the need to break down silos for some time now, but it took a pandemic to accelerate the process. We always knew that interdepartmental communication was critical — but now we see just how interdependent we really are when it comes to optimizing revenue and implementing strategy.
Agility: “Pivot” has become perhaps the most overused worked of the pandemic, but the fact remains, there’s nothing like a crisis to motivate you to take a hard look at everything you’ve been doing, throw out whatever isn’t working, try something new, and throw that out, too, if it doesn’t work. Responding to an ever-changing situation means staying lean and moving quickly.
Wellbeing: And finally, hospitality has always been about serving not just guests but the people who serve guests — our team members and talents. As our employees have risen to the challenge of doing more with less, keeping the lights on amid layoffs and furloughs, and delivering hospitality throughout a global pandemic, we must continue to prioritize their mental and physical wellbeing.
All of these initiatives will be crucial to the industry not just as it recovers from the pandemic but as it evolves and grows beyond that. But for now, take heart: The pandemic isn’t over yet, but when it is, the hospitality profession will be stronger and better than ever.