A Harsh Reality

The tragedies of multiple natural disasters over the past several weeks have been well documented.  The impact of hurricanes in Texas, the Caribbean, and Florida as well as historical wildfires in California is still being assessed, but certainly more than enough is known to understand that we are witnessing a previously uncharted period in our history.  Countless lives have been impacted, as well as countless businesses and the communities that they serve. 

Perhaps less realized or less appreciated in all of this is the fact that the lives affected are not limited to those homeowners whose property has been victimized.  Sadly, the reach of this devastation extends beyond physical structures and reaches directly into the pockets of many.  In our hospitality world, the destruction of hotels in northern California by fire and the devastation of hotels in the Caribbean, Texas,  and Florida by storm has resulted not only in forcing many of our colleagues from their homes, it has also resulted in many of our colleagues losing their sources of income.  The harsh reality is that hospitality properties have closed for months at a time or, worse, have been destroyed entirely.   This complete interruption of  business, and therefore the complete interruption of the lives of our colleagues and friends working in those locations,  will have a long-lasting impact on our industry and on the affected local communities.  

At the same time, this enormous disruption to our industry in certain parts of the world has created significant business opportunities in others.  The state of affairs in the Caribbean for at least several months into the future has caused Group and Individual business to look elsewhere for the upcoming season.  As a result, operators are being challenged to look at their 2018 planning process, particularly for Q1, with a different lens than they have in the past.  It is fair to say that the upcoming winter season for the Caribbean region will look very different than we are accustomed to.  Hotel operators in Florida and in other warm-weather destinations may still be dealing with hurricane fallout themselves, yet must also be able to look closely at the upcoming months to determine their best possible strategy for business success.   

The challenge is complex; on one hand, the enormity of the impact of these disasters on our friends and colleagues in the industry cannot be understated.  Our associates have suffered through terrible losses, and in many cases there is still much suffering ahead.  On the other hand, the effect of this series of events is that a period of historically high business levels is literally being relocated for upcoming months.  The nature of our business is that we must deal with sharp peaks and valleys; the upcoming season will take this practice to new extremes.  Through all of this, however, we cannot lose focus on our colleagues, friends and communities whose lives and livelihoods have been so dramatically impacted.  

What can we do to help?  These same unfortunate recent events from around the globe have brought about certain outcomes that provide cause for optimism.  Businesses, major universities, houses of worship and other hubs of their communities have gathered in various formats to show their unity and their support for victims of such events.  Crossing into our hospitality world, our own messages of support, events such as all-employee gatherings for the purpose of fund-raising, local community activities aimed at bringing in donations for our less-fortunate colleagues, etc.  are all well within our ability to drive and promote.  Now is the time for us to be reaching out to our colleagues in our words and our actions to let them know that they are not alone.