“In the middle of difficultly lies opportunity” – Albert Einstein

In such difficult and uncertain times, it’s easy to lose ourselves in the multitude of challenges that seem to arise on a daily, if not hourly basis. And it’s understandable. People are rightly concerned for the health of their loved ones, what their future may hold, and how they are going to survive this pandemic that has crippled the world as we once knew it. But both as individuals, and as organizations, we must try to retain some semblance of positivity if we want to minimize the impact of Covid19 both emotionally and economically.

With that in mind, I thought I’d start this blog article by recounting words of wisdom from the great Albert Einstein. Not so much as inspiration, but more as a way to re-calibrate our mindset, and provide a form of emotional rest bite, if only temporarily.

“In the middle of difficultly lies opportunity” – Albert Einstein

I have to admit, sitting down to write this blog article proved quite difficult. Not because there is a lack of topics to discuss. Covid19 has clearly turned our worlds upside down, impacting our businesses, finances and relationships in ways that will be felt well into the future. It’s changed the way we work, how we interact, and how we consume goods and services. Long term, I suspect it will impact how we view the world. It will force us to reevaluate what’s important and change the way we live our lives. In the short-term, it has forced businesses both big and small to become agile, and search for new or alternative methods to service the needs of their customers. To become adaptable and view their operations through a different lens. A lens that may well become the new reality for many into the future. And that’s where the opportunity lies. But I’ll expand upon this more later.

But first a brief story. Actually, it’s more of an example of how one particular hotel responded quickly and decisively when new government regulations led to the closure of their in-house restaurant. Their response was not necessarily revolutionary, but it demonstrates the value of flexible thinking. And the impact was indeed significant.

This particular property had previously operated a ‘Take-away’ service in addition to their on-site restaurant, where guests could place an order, pick up their meal, and return to the room to eat. Following the announcement of strict social distancing regulations, the hotel management had a choice to make. Close down their F&B operations or find an alternative method to service their guests. They chose the later and quickly implemented a traditional room-service model, but using a digital ordering platform that guests accessed via their own mobile devices instead of traditional in-room telephones (which they didn’t have).

Before I tell you what happened, I understand and appreciate the results occurred in extraordinary circumstances. The restaurant had closed, and guests were no doubt reluctant to dine out due to fears of contamination (but this is actually beside the point). Prior to Covid19, the hotels F&B takeaway service received on average 5 orders per week. In the ten days following the implementation of full room-service via a digital ordering platform, they received 109 orders. The result not only increased the F&B revenue in a time when their occupancy reduced by between 70-80%, but meant they could continue to offer their guests a valuable service, while abiding by the strict new laws.

Despite the results, and the clear benefit this hotel derived from taking a solution focused mindset to changes that were forced upon them, it’s what came next that provides the real lesson. Hotel management decided to implement this new F&B system into their operations long term. What the outcome will be is unclear. But they clearly viewed the current environment as an opportunity to better understand what their guests wanted, and analyse their existing processes. They didn’t view these new measures as a short-term band aid, only to return usual operations once the pandemic passed. But rather an opportunity to improve their business for years to come and better service the needs of their customers. And that’s what leaders do. That’s how innovators think. They seize opportunities for what they are and use them to their advantage.

For properties who have been forced to close, the opportunity to implement and test different approaches will obviously not exist. But there still remains an opportunity to reflect upon how the industry may look in 3, 6 or 12 months, and explore the various approaches that may place your business in a better position to bounce back once the travel industry begin to recover. Evaluate alternative technologies and business models, and look at the successful changes other properties have made and whether such changes may prove beneficial in your operations. As distant as it may seem, there does in fact lie an opportunity for positive change among the turmoil of the recent months.

So I’ll leave you with this. A thought from one of the great motivators of the modern era, Tony Robins:

“Expect change. Analyse the landscape. Take the opportunities. Stop being the chess piece; become the player. It’s your move.”

Stay safe everybody!

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