Is the wolf scratching at the door? Lessons learned so far from the COVID era...
— 10 experts shared their view
The past six months of the COVID-19 pandemic has forced companies and individuals to reconsider not only what they do, where they do it, and how they do it, but also why they do what they do (or don't do what they don't do). In other words, it has forced executives to reflect more intensely on both the external environment in which their firms compete and the ways in which they do so. Strategic thinking, management, and implementation have never been more important than now in the hospitality industry as countless firms across the world are fighting for their survival. As Professor Richard Rumelt once wrote, successful companies may not actually engage in strategy work until the "wolf is at the door." In today's COVID-19 world, not only is the wolf at the door, but he is scratching to get in, ready to blow the house (or hotel) down. The question, therefore, is what have you and/or your firm learned most about your business strategy, and what are you doing about it?
General Manager at The Bürgenstock Selection
The biggest learning about the business strategy is to go back and revisit the original plan and see whether it still holds in the new environment and changing context. This impacts mainly the long and medium-term strategy as the short term has been disrupted tremendously by this one-off event with potential huge long-term impacts.
If the long-term business strategy is built on solid foundations and is built to be "crisis-proof" then it just may mean that certain goalposts get moved further away into the future or in some cases my be reached sooner depending on how the consumer responds to it in such an environment.
Every crisis is also an opportunity, a turning point, which can either excel the business strategy or requires it to change completely in order to survive. It means also for our business that certain aspects of the business strategy may turn out to be even more relevant than before and others less. These aspects need to be calibrated again in a careful manner in order to be clear about the direction and focus one wants to steer actions and decisions that support that medium to long term strategy: For instance, if improving technology services for the guests especially to facilitate contactless and time-independent experiences (be it check-in, room access, payment of bills at departure, restaurant and spa bookings, etc.) was part of the business strategy to increase guest satisfaction, reduce operational and commercial inefficiencies or payroll costs, then this aspect of the business strategy may need to be accelerated to stay ahead of the competition and gauge more consumer attention especially in the current context.
On the other hand, if the business and commercial strategy relied very much on having products and services geared towards a singular consumer group be it a business segment or geographic origin, that may need to be revisited and diversified for the future. The current global event has proven that being reliant just on one type of consumer could lead to business failure if that particular consumer group does not recover quickly enough to keep the business afloat.
So in essence, the existing business strategy for our own organization may not require a complete overhaul, but an adjustment in certain aspects of it because the long-term narrative is still valid, it is just being told in a different way for some parts of it. Being aware and reacting to it accordingly will then lead and propel the continued success of it also into the future.