One of several overused phrases during this period, alongside ‘unprecedented’, ‘stay safe’ and ‘front line’, is ‘all in this together'. But what does that mean?
I think the amazing behaviour we have seen is the way in which people have on mass approached their responsibilities to this threat. Whether that is by businesses complying with government restrictions or by individuals focusing on social distancing and improving their personal hygiene. In that sense we are definitely together.
However, even though I appreciate the impact of COVID has been detrimental to all economies, I can’t help but feel the hospitality industry has been affected the most severely at this stage, with commercial property looking to have a shot at the title in the near future.
As someone who has built a career around servicing the hospitality industry, and as a self-confessed lover of pubs, restaurants and the races (which I might add – hasn’t it been just so good that racing has been able to continue during this period!?), it seems foreign to me for hospitality to be classed as a ‘non-essential’ service.
Hospitality is an essential part of my life, an essential part of my business and an essential part of who I am as a person.
That said, I appreciate the risk large numbers of people gathering in small areas represents to society during a pandemic, and that this was something the Government had no choice but to manage.
But, as highlighted by my friend Tom Gleeson in his recent and excellent article featured in The Hotel Conversation titled Have we been taking the hospitality market for granted? “Pubs, restaurants, clubs, function venues, resorts and hotels are critical in creating community and providing identity”. It makes me curious as to how the positive outcomes of this time might influence the way these venues are utilised moving forward.
What I have enjoyed the most are the simple things - like playing cards and board games with my family, sitting around a table for evening meals and talking, ringing friends and colleagues to see if they are okay, checking in with my parents and other elderly friends whose company we won’t be privileged with forever.
These have all been positive short term bi-products of the impact of isolation. However I believe this is only the beginning. In talking to my colleagues and peers who have worked 70+ hour weeks for their entire career, this adjustment has brought new perspective. Those who have historically sought to be ‘all things to all people’ are reconsidering their options, taking a breath and in some cases, for the first time in their lives, making time to smell the roses.
So at a time when it seems everything is unpredictable, I am most interested to see how this shift might transform the economy, and in turn impact our hospitality venues and lives generally.
It’s possible that with a new focus on lifestyle, family and achieving a better balance with work, people will have more time to socialise and will in fact rely on these venues more than ever as the lifeblood of our communities. I hope that one bi-product of this time is that we see the hospitality and tourism industries become more essential than ever.
Until that time, please take us up on our offer to assist any pub or hotel venue with 30 minutes of free advice during this time. We are keen to seen the industry thrive once more.