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As Our Industry Fluctuates, Hospitality Remains

As Our Industry Fluctuates, Hospitality Remains 1 WilburHotel so2019050 02 Retouched

It’s no stretch to say the hospitality field, like the rest of the world, has been turned upside down as of late. In this extra time I’ve suddenly found myself with, I’ve been reflecting on how we got here, how we’re navigating our new normal, and what we can do to better what lies ahead.

In the beginning

There’s nothing quite like a global pandemic to remind you how unpredictable life can be. Sure, we know intrinsically that tomorrow isn’t guaranteed, but we also knew we could make reservations, book flights, and schedule vacation plans with confidence and little issue or second thought.

In early March, everything changed. In the U.S., we saw hospitality businesses of all stripes scrambling to close their doors, file for loans, set up fundraisers, and furlough or lay off employees.

There was no precedence or timeline, but most of us thought that we’d have to white-knuckle through a few tough months before bouncing back to normal. As we anxiously waited for a call to action and a way to get through this together, it began to seem like a call we’d have to make ourselves in our own communities.

The new normal
Now, we’re nearly half a year into this new way of life, with masks, hand sanitizer, and small, socially distanced gatherings still the norm. Tens of thousands of businesses have shuttered for good. Those in the hospitality industry that have been able to stay open have pivoted to things like outdoor dining, to-go options, and creative inventory repurposing.

Hotels and restaurants have implemented strict cleanliness policies that extend from forks to air filters. We’re all doing our best with the limited knowledge we have, and working to be flexible and strategize as new information comes to light. Meanwhile, my passport and luggage remain tucked away — unused and, for the time being, not needed. I’m making peace with the knowledge that I will set foot on a plane again, I just don’t know when.

How we move forward

Lately, the uncertainty of the future has been thrown into sharp relief. Hospitality will retain its core values, but the expression will change.

So, what does the future of hospitality look like? Potentially, we will spend less time in a hotel’s public space and more time in the guest room. Therefore (as suggested by one designer on a recent Zoom call), why not spend this time doing what we can to make the room more hospitable? This is certainly a plan the Studio Twist team can get behind. I also foresee hotels adopting more of a residential feel in their spaces, as “home” equates to “safety” these days.

After all, people are at the core of hospitality. The way we move forward is by thinking about people. That means our teams, our customers, and the public — how we can all be safe, and all survive in the current situation we find ourselves in.

I still believe in the principle that science is self-correcting and is our path to what the world will be post-COVID. At Studio Twist, we continue to look for opportunities to improve our product, but the best defense continues to be “just wash it,” like your hands. Soap, medium-temperature wash (140 degrees), and agitation will clean our products, according to guidance from the CDC.

In this moment of pause, we have the opportunity to focus on how we rebuild. The virus will eventually be beaten, and people will return to travel, vacations, restaurants, and hotels again. How can we, as hospitality professionals, ensure the experience we provide in the future is better than the one before? That is the question worth asking and should be part of an ongoing discussion when we see you again.

Hospitality is about connections. When we can all work together again, we will find the solutions to help travel return as one of the main drivers of our economy. In the meantime, I’ll wave as I pass by… on another road trip to visit family, or the beach, or the mountains… maybe that’s one of the silver linings. We are again reminded what’s at our back door.