“A letter to the Hospitality Industry and beyond”

By Georges R. Chakar

Open and Authentic conversations…

So we have this group on WhatsApp, we are all senior hospitality professionals, from hoteliers to consultants to tourism advisors to travel agents, etc. It was a great initiative to create a group of 160+ people, thanks to Sayed Tayoun from IHG, and to stay connected with colleagues, peers, and like-minded people and create regular conversations in these tough times, conversations that add tremendous value to navigate and bounce back.

As I was reading, listening, and observing more and more on the group, I came to realize that a lot of people are on survival mode (including me), we are and our industry very vulnerable, and it is ok to feel this way. Trying to reimagine customer journey, looking at making our properties or workplace corona friendly, Looking at the different tourism segments and behaviors, when is the airline starting, how to create corona safety zones (CSZ), looking at the sales projections, MICE segment, when we could come back to normal occupancy rates, etc… all the mentioned are very much needed and a lot of the think-tanks like ours (this is how I like to call it) are very much immersed in similar exercise each in their own industries.

but I think we are missing something here.

The ugly truth for whom a lot are still denying is that “if the normal was working we would not have reached where we are today”. This is not just to say that a new normal is coming our way or to say how digitization is going to lead or how AI will be adopted, etc…because all of that is true and is becoming some sort of cliche… but what I want to say is how we as humans, communities, organizations are taking full responsibility for our actions and for our impacts from here onward.

I am curious to know what are large organizations, such as IHG, Marriott, tourism boards, individual influencers, etc., doing beyond the above, beyond adapting to new business norms, to new consumer behavior… how will they be living their values and their purposes beyond being a beautiful paragraph on the website or on the wall? how are they being responsible towards the environment, the community, etc? beyond earth hour, and PR stunts. What after we, our companies, and organizations start making money again and we start making our shareholders happy again. Will we have learned the lesson? or we go back to the greedy nature? Increase sales at any cost, increase profit at any cost, going into the same cycle again and again…it is rare that we get 2nd chances in life and here we are presented with one, therefore, I see it from a human perspective without discounting the business side, values and purpose, going back to the core and start from there…

We all heard about transformation, evolution, reinvention, etc. I Believe as we have been given a 2nd chance, by God or the universe or how you would like to call the divine power. This 2nd chance is for us, to look back inside as individuals, communities, governments, or organizations and rethink, what were we doing right and do more of, and what were we doing wrong and do less of. What about salary unfairness, employee exploitations, commissions under the table, conflict of interests, sexiest, gender bias, environmental exploitation, abuse, etc. we all have a bit of these if not all in our organizations… now that I come to name it, I realized that it is not strange that the hospitality industry was impacted the most and will take more time to recover…

The question is: what are we doing on that front?

Hospitality is one of the oldest industries in the world, where humans interact on one to one level, small/large groups, and mass, it reaches everybody and everywhere, it is about creating connections that are meaningful and powerful, connections that matter. If there is a movement that can drive this transformation, realization, and the evolution of human values is hospitality.

Finally, I would like to assume that every one of us is a leader in his own right and is responsible (if she/he wishes) to start a conversation with self first, with peers second and with his organization third, these conversations are just a start and I am setting the intention that this will create a movement and a ripple effect…

Questions to think of:

  1. What we should get rid of? (the baggage)
  2. What should we say no to? what should we say yes to?
  3. How can we contribute to creating a better version of the old or a totally new version?
  4. What actions should we take now?

I would like to urge all people participating, leading, and/or organizing webinars to add such a perspective to the conversations.

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