By Robert A. Gilbert, CHME, CHBA, President and CEO, Hospitality Sales & Marketing Association International (HSMAI)
It may seem difficult if not impossible to imagine our industry after the coronavirus, but now is the time to do exactly that. Recovery will be long and complicated, and have as much to do with the psychology of individual consumers as it does with economic resilience. MMGY Global CEO Clayton Reid has outlined four phases of the process: fear, understanding, action, and rational behavior.
And what about when recovery is finally here? When will this crisis be fully behind us? According to political science professor Aisha S. Ahmad, never. “Global catastrophes change the world, and this pandemic is very much akin to a major war,” Ahmad writes in The Chronicle of Higher Education. “Even if we contain the Covid-19 crisis within a few months, the legacy of this pandemic will live with us for years, perhaps decades to come. It will change the way we move, build, learn, and connect.”
Ahmad has her own stages of adapting to the crisis: security, the mental shift, and embrace a new normal. The underlying message is the same as with Reid’s four phases: Everyone will experience recovery differently, at their own pace. And that includes not just our customers but those of us who work in hospitality sales, marketing, and revenue optimization.
What phase or stage are you at? If the Virtual Roundtable programs HSMAI has been hosting for our c-level peer groups in response to the coronavirus crisis are any indication, you probably are at the “action” or “embracing the new normal” phase. As part of these events, which over the last month we’ve produced for chief sales, marketing, revenue, digital, and loyalty officers, we asked participants to identify positive trends they’ve seen during the crisis. Common responses across the Roundtables included rebooking activity and signs of recovery in China, as well as various ways that teams and departments are working together seamlessly to move business and their companies forward. (See the chart at the end of this column for unique themes from all seven of our Virtual Roundtable programs.)
Taken together, this suggests that our community is realistic about the ongoing and long-term effects of this crisis but also encouraged by the potential for recovery — which is excellent news, but remember: Your future guests and clients are going through these phases and stages, too, and when they come out the other end of the crisis, they’re likely going to behave very differently. I encourage you to track consumer research that undoubtedly will be conducted into the post-coronavirus business landscape, which could yield valuable insights about not just when people will want to travel and meet but how.
Prepare yourself now for recovery — the industry’s, the guests’ and clients’, and your own as well.
For additional information, insights, and tools, visit HSMAI’s Global Coronavirus Resources page.
From the Roundtables
As part of the seven Virtual Roundtables that HSMAI hosted for our executive peer groups in March–April 2020, we asked participants: What positive trend(s) have you seen in the last 14 days? Common responses across all groups included rebooking activity, signs of recovery in China, and positive intent-to-travel numbers. Below is one of the unique responses from each group.