Article by Giovanni Angelini
A pandemic is the most serious destabilizer, by any standard, on the hospitality industry and the most severe damage it can do to put our business to a halt. The worst crisis ever to hit the travel industry, a cruel blow. As caring hospitality professionals, we learned that during those unsettling times, both physically and emotionally, the safety and the health of the people come before revenue and profits, "health before wealth".
It is a clear reminder to all of us how precious is our health and our families. A reminder that in front of a nasty virus, we are all equal and that all human beings share a common destiny regardless of race, ethnicity, religion, ideology, social position, rich-poor, location, and political beliefs.
We learned that Governments should have been paying much more attention to investing in the public health care system and be better prepared for emergencies and catastrophes and also that the authorities must act swiftly and aggressively when faced with dangerous viruses, not playing politics and pointing fingers when the crisis breaks out.
Learned that International cooperation, transparency and timely sharing of first-hand information on all aspects of the virus, including tracking, spread patterns, changing symptoms and possible preventive measures should be made mandatory. Countries must be on the same page when it comes to multilateral global governance and not isolate themselves. This is a time when the world needs to come together to fight the pandemic.
That a pandemic affects personal livelihoods and Governments must be prepared to offer financial assistance, subsidies, reliefs and other types of assistance to reduce the impact on its people and to business. And learned that the hospitality industry must be united on soliciting reliefs from the authorities. Travel and tourism is a major industry providing more jobs than any other business.
We all learned the importance of Governments and for organizations to strongly promote and educate people on personal hygiene, including social distancing in this case. And on how to handle pandemics and emergencies, prevent panic and anxiety, and have a clear plan/document in place for all to refer to as an effective measure in avoiding infections.
We learned that false and misleading information about coronavirus pandemic seems to be contagious and we all have to realize that fake news spreads faster and more easily than this virus and is just as dangerous. That pandemic creates regional/global financial recessions and in response to this, the key role of hospitality/business leaders is to protect their people/jobs, manage controllable expenses, preserve cash, be creative/innovative and prepared for the recovery.
Pandemics are not solved by politics nor by military strengths and even less by weak politicians/leaders. Unfortunately also learned that many politicians/head of states/leaders are not up to the task as "unparalleled times require unprecedented actions" and many autocrats/leaders are simply lost and/or playing politics and on top of it, are clueless on getting a sustainable recovery back on track. Blaming others is counterproductive and not going to help us solve the problem sooner.
The world could do with more international empathy, solidarity, and cooperation on developing cures and vaccines to fight deadly viruses now and in the future. All countries should invest much more money in people's health and less on military/defense. Unfortunately, the whole world has to learn and accept that under the best of circumstances there's going to be a very difficult challenge for mankind and there should be "no illusion that we have won".
In some cases, and due to an unusually low volume of business, we learned the process of temporarily closing hotels/businesses and on how to handle staff's continuous basic income, communication with customers, suppliers, partners, and all others involved with the business. And of course when times comes, a reopening process/plan.
And finally, a strong reminder that we must take much better care of our sick planet, that we should have more respect for nature and conduct/practice a sustainable lifestyle on all that we do. We all wait with bated breath for this crisis to end but it appears that a lot more work remains to be done.