We’re certainly living through dark times. With few industries left unscathed, this pandemic we are trying to feel our way through has made a forceful attempt to ravage our economy, and it’s very much succeeding.
Now that we’ve addressed the dark and obvious truth of the situation, let’s focus on the other side of things. The side that says, we have been here before. Our Sales Director, Sharon Cowley, remembers very well when the last recession hit, how resilient the hospitality industry proved itself to be then. “As an industry, we have been through a lot, and having been through as much as we have, we’ve collectively shown our ability to change with the times, adapt to consumer demands and society, and mould ourselves into whatever we’ve needed to be. This is a real challenge, of course, but if we all support each other – as businesses, as people – that is how we will get through it. Positivity breeds positivity.”
There have been challenges before
We, here at Net Affinity, have been in business for 20 years now, and in that time, there’s been a lot of things to navigate through the journey. “We’ve been through a lot of changes. We’ve survived recessions. We’ve had to adapt and be agile, and although the situation we find ourselves in is severe, it’s also – in a way – no different in terms of how we’re trying to approach it. We’re still here for our staff, we’re here for our clients. We support them 100% and we want them to know we’re very much here for them. What will be most different about this situation is the world, society and industry we’ll enter back into once we emerge from this strange limbo,” Sharon says.
Looking ahead, we need to work together more than ever
There may have been whispers in weeks gone by of what the ‘new normal’ would look like, with many of us not really having any kind of insight into whether this would make a long-lasting impact on us as individuals. But as days and weeks have passed, it’s become clearer how much the fabric of our society is fundamentally changing, which – as hoteliers and people working in the hospitality industry – we can’t ignore.
“I think going forward, there will need to be more co-dependence between businesses. We all have to help and support each other. We ourselves are working with our partners to try and find ways of providing added value to clients – hoteliers will need to look around their own communities and see who they can cooperate with, in order to attract people to the destination, not just the hotel”, says Sharon.
As is evident from chats with family, friends, updates by the media, everywhere you look – this pandemic has made people revert back and recognise what is truly important in their lives, which usually translates to the simple things. It means relationships, community, supporting local, being safe, prioritising health. All of this will feed into the new world we find ourselves in post Covid-19.
With staycations suddenly becoming one of the most hopeful words to be spoken within the industry, it’s what you should be shifting your focus towards, alongside the domestic market. We are a small but beautiful country with hidden gems and majestic sights nestled in around every corner. People’s appetite for adventure and exploration will not waiver – they will just be looking closer to home to satisfy it. Before, a staycation was more – one or two nights away, maybe a weekend. Now, it’s looking like that will turn into a holiday. This is why it makes sense for you to work with all the other local businesses that make your community a special place people will want to visit.
And it won’t just be opening the doors for business as usual when the time comes. It’s too soon to get a handle on all of the specifics, but there will be many changes that need to be made to satisfy and put your new customer at ease. You’ll need to consider things like enhancing room service menus, how you conduct check-in and check-out, enabling contactless payment, even training staff in regards to social distancing. Like we said, it’s a new world.
So, how do we get where we’re going?
Supporting each other is the key to surviving and getting back on the path towards thriving. We will need to work collectively.
“The most important thing to us is our clients knowing we are there to support them in any way they need. It’s also so important to us that we are contributing to and supporting the industry as a whole, which is why we continue to work closely with The Irish Hospitality Institute and The Irish Hotel’s Federation during this time of upheaval,” says Sharon.
We will all be watching closely as new guidelines are developed and put in place. “There are battles yet to face, but the important thing really is to keep positive. We’ll be there to support you when you decide to open your hotel again. We’ll be there to help you decide how to go forward, and to advise on how you can raise occupancy levels again in the confines of the ‘new normal’. It may the hardest thing we’ve been through yet but we’ll come out of it ready to adapt, develop and cater for a different society.”