COVID-19: A stress test for sustainable development in hospitality?
— 22 experts shared their view
"Covid-19 is climate change on warp speed" (Wagner, Mar.10, 2020). The current pandemic has catastrophic consequences on the hospitality sector. The ways the industry currently deals with the crisis (for example, see: COVID-19 - Survival Guide for the Hospitality Industry) offers a glimpse into the crisis management endeavors in building a business case for disaster and climate resiliency. Climate emergency is not dissimilar to the coronavirus threat, whereby 'both demand early aggressive action to minimize loss" (Cobb, Mar. 12, 2020). However, with hotel companies facing an existential crisis, or large-scale downsizing, what will be left of the sustainability programs and initiatives once this pandemic is overcome? Will we be starting from scratch or is the coronavirus crisis the opportunity to implement a swift change in risk assessment and management facing the climate crisis? What are the key lessons from the coronavirus crisis on how to deal with the climate emergency?
The coronavirus requires hospitality firms to take immediate action to protect their business; these actions can be implemented at the same time as taking decisive, creative action to make the firm more sustainable. In fact, seeking to reduce fixed costs and examining ways to survive the current crisis opens doors to thriving in the future. This is exactly the time to consider experience design changes to your service delivery and guest activities that will reduce energy and water use, cut food waste and increase guest satisfaction. Rather than simply prune back fixed costs, re-engineer change. Include all the points you have noted over the years, and the features you can add for a competitive advantage. Why taking action will also help you thrive; consider that the Coronavirus is a crisis all mankind is sharing. Collective responsibility is now transparently being allied across society. The value of CSR will be all the more important for companies and for motivating stakeholders. Use this time to supercharge your sustainability programme. It will not only save your money it may increase your appeal and boost your yield.