Summer holiday plans cancelled, hotels closing their doors, rows of airplanes parked on tarmacs. It is evident that the COVID-19 pandemic has severely affected the tourism and hospitality industry. Many employees working in the hospitality industry have been put on furlough or even laid off. The future of the entire industry seems to lay in uncertainty, with no confirmation when things will return back to normal, or if they ever will. This is obviously worrying for many hospitalians, as their careers lie in uncertainty. But worry not, I am here to analyze the future of the hospitality industry and provide you with some much needed reassurance regarding the revival of the hospitality industry, which may be sooner than you think!
Before you get too down about the current situation, let’s take a look at some of the crises the hospitality industry has already endured before. World War 2, natural disasters such as tsunamis and earthquakes, numerous recessions, such as that of 2008, just to name a few. The COVID-19 is definitely not the first crisis the hospitality industry has faced, and it will not be the last. The point I am trying to make is that the industry has faced huge crises before, and has still managed to come out on top. Therefore, although the current situation seems severe, and it is, based on how the industry has overcome previous adversities, there is no reason why it cannot do so now.
In fact, the hospitality and travel industries will probably be very quick to recover. Here is why: Travel has become ingrained in the normal habits of society. With the abundance of travel options, affordability and the ease of travel, society has become used to this luxury. This is not likely to disappear once the availability to travel resurfaces. In fact, there is likely to be a resurgence of demand for many hospitality services very soon, as people will want to visit their friends and family, take a trip away from their quarantined surroundings, and meet friends they have not seen in months over dinner. Although some may be weary of travel for a while after travel restrictions have been eased, and for good reason; but an even larger population are itching to get off of their couches and re-book their cancelled holidays. Even if international travel is not an option, local travel will still be a great alternative, which is likely to be embraced by many. This is one of the realities the hospitality industry needs to embrace. Post quarantine, travel habits of the population may be different to those before the crisis.
Many hotels are already preparing for re-opening, and implementing strict hygiene measures to ensure the safety of occupants. In many countries, hotels are allowed to re-open in very early stages of de-escalation measures, as hotel rooms are private, therefore interactions between other guests are minimal. In many countries the food and beverage industry has already resumed its operations, and has largely transformed its operations from in-house dining to home delivery and pick up options. Some hotels are already planning to entice the general public to travel by offering attractive discounts and packages. Others are using this downtime to refurbish their facilities and develop their platforms to be able to provide the best services to customers once the travel lockdown is lifted.
Governments of countries worldwide are attempting to help to alleviate the financial struggles of many businesses in the hospitality industry. Some are offering grants, paid furloughs for employees, deferments on loans and leases and cutting taxes. The situation of each individual business is of course unique, so it is not plausible to state that every business within the hospitality industry will survive the effects of the pandemic. It is a sad, but true reality.
It is evident that the hospitality and tourism industries have been some of the most hard hit during the COVID-19 pandemic. The road to complete recovery will take time, patience and resilience, but the silver lining is that the recovery may be sooner than you think. Although the industry may not be able to resume its operations to the same capacity immediately, the entire industry is not doomed. People will continue to travel, book holiday trips and eat out for years to come, but for the time being they may embrace different travel habits than prior to the COVID-19. Going back to “normal” is still a long way away, as the COVID-19 is here to stay. In these trying times, the businesses who embrace the unexpected, act quickly to find innovative solutions to problems and implement these quickly, will be the businesses who will come out on top. It is as important to plan for the future as it is to act now!
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