The overall impact of the pandemic on hospitality has been evident in a number of ways, but as the lodging industry looks ahead towards a potential recovery the importance of evaluating lessons learned and being prepared for similar events going forward has become a point of emphasis.
Speaking during last week’s “ALIS 6×8: Recovery Top Of Mind,” Carlos Flores, President and CEO, Sonesta International Hotels Corp., and Joseph Bojanowski, President, PM Hotel Group, touted the value of taking a look back.
Flores, for his part, noted it’s “critical” that hoteliers take stock while emphasizing the timing is right to do so.
“Granted we still have one foot firmly placed in this pandemic, but we’re closer to the other end of the tunnel than we’ve ever been. It’s a good time to start really taking inventory of the lessons learned. What did we need to do to respond? What was the agility that was required and what are our expectations?
Flores continued, “If you’re following the science there probably is a higher probability that we’ll see these [pandemics] again within our careers. Hopefully it’s to a lot lesser extent. But even outside of health concerns, there are other disrupters that are directly applicable. So we need to understand and take all those lessons and put them down on paper making sure that they’re readily accessible while having an appreciation for what was successful. Not just how do we mitigate the risks on the downside, but what it really was that yielded benefits in the midst of this horrific 100-year global pandemic.”
Bojanowski also stressed the importance of being prepared going forward.
“There will always be Black Swan events, whatever they might be. Those events are out there and they will continue to happen,” he said.
Bojanowski zeroed in on some of the learnings that could help the industry going forward.
“I think that the most promising thing that I’ve seen has been the rapid adoption and deployment of technology by the brands, by the owners, by the managers, and most importantly by the guest, that’s occurred over the last 12 months. I think it’s better positioned us to harness data in a way that we’ve not been able to before,” he said, emphasizing the ability to make “real-time decisions.”
Bojanowski added, “I think our industry’s always been a little behind in terms of using technology but we began to catch up over the last 12 months. I think we’ll continue to accelerate on that catch up and I think that will be the difference the next time an event causes a crisis in our industry.”
Flores, meanwhile, noted he remains “real hopeful” about a recovery sooner than later. “As the collective dialogue in the industry starts to move around there are signs of green chutes and we’re moving more to referencing objective data that’s showing that we’re on path to recovery now,” he said.