New York (United States) – March 22, 2020 (travelindex.com) – During the coronavirus crisis, in particular in the tourism sector, layoffs seems to be one of the first decision taken by corporate leaders.
Of course, a cost-cutting reflex is understandable as leaders are obligated to make responsible decisions to keep their companies afloat. But those who manage the economic effects of this crisis in a clear and compassionate way create more value for their companies and will come out of this pandemic stronger than ever before.
The current crisis also brings opportunities to strengthen current relationships and build new ones not only with employees and customers but also with professional associations and government.
Global and national travel and tourism associations (IATA, WTTC, DMAI, AHLA, SITE, IACC, ICCA, HOTREC, International Hotel & Restaurant Association, German Hotel Association, Thai Hotel Association, etc) are asking, and need, financial support from Governments but these same associations should also stress to their members the importance of “putting employees first”; companies that demonstrate genuine empathy and competence amid the Covid-19 pandemic will emerge in a much stronger position.
The hotel industry employs about 6 million workers in the U.S. alone and accounts for about 5% of GDP, generating some $650 billion in annual sales. On March 17, 2020, hospitality executives met with President Donald Trump in the White House to ask for a federally funded bailout. Industry executives are asking for as much as $150 billion in help.
American Hotel and Lodging Association President Chip Rogers said hotel owners hope about $100 billion of that can go to help support furloughed workers. The rest would be needed to help hotel owners make their debt payments.
Airlines and hotel companies, which are at the epicentre of the coronavirus outbreak as bookings crumble and cancellations outpace bookings, are seeking billions in aid, including direct grants from governments. Lawmakers have to request that companies receiving financial assistance should be barred from buybacks permanently, and prevented from issuing dividends or executive bonuses for three years. These companies should also commit to invested heavily in their employees, who are the backbone of the industry.
Smaller companies show the way; lebua hotels and resorts in Bangkok (Thailand) has not laid off any single employee since the beginning of the corona virus outbreak. Deepak Ohri argued that any assistance must be designed to reduce inequality between executives and workers. “If we are going to bail out companies, we need to make sure all employees get their pay-check and benefit from a turnaround.”
The COVID-19 pandemic has forced businesses to shut down, impacting millions of workers. But some companies are looking to hire as consumer demand swells; Walmart plans to hire 150,000 new employees, Amazon plans to hire 100,000 workers and Pepsi, 7-Eleven, Safeway, Kroger are hiring as well. Finding a coexistence model between employees and employers is more important than laying off employees.
In the pre-covid-19 world major brands were great at creativity but falling short of customer expectations. Today opportunity lies in being selfless and helping the world like it was very well said; “When the tide recede we will see what everyone is wearing”. Let’s all of us cooperate to make the world better a better place.
The global challenge posed by the current Covid-19 pandemic is a once-in-a-century disease that will require Governments, organizations and companies to jettison previous recovery models in favour of out-of-the box ideas and measures to bring societies and people together, instead of driving them apart.