The hospitality, tourism and health care industries were among the many which experienced immediate disruption and setbacks as COVID-19 spread. For example, by early April it was estimated that 70% of businesses in the hospitality sector had to reduce staff hours. The aged care sector remains in the spotlight due to outbreaks in Victoria and New South Wales and ongoing discussions with the Federal government about costs of infection control.
But the sectors also led the way with innovative measures regarding safety, communication, cross-industry collaboration and more. Their leaders remain optimistic about the future.
The Blue Mountains International Hotel Management School’s Leadership Speaker Series: ‘The Road to Recovery: Strategies and responses from hospitality and related industries to Coronavirus’ last week was an honest, timely and important discussion focusing on how hospitality, healthcare and related service industries are implementing recovery strategies due to COVID-19.
I was joined by Rachel Argaman, CEO of Opal Aged Care, Simon McGrath AM, Chief Operating Officer of Accor Pacific, and Peter Tudehope, Regional Manager of Radisson Hotels Australia Pacific. The panel shared their experiences, provided insights and made suggestions for the way forward.
Reflecting on how Opal Aged Care has coped through this period, including in dealing with cases of COVID-19 in their community, Rachel said Opal staff rallied together to support each other and protect residents.
“Heroes emerged, our team were extraordinary,” she said.
Rachel emphasised the importance of customer centricity in aged care when discussing the link between hospitality and health and added that at Opal their purpose is to bring joy to those they care for.
“Clinical excellence is foundational but love, purpose and belonging is really important.”
Simon McGrath A.M said that while there is still a long road ahead, he’s optimistic about a strong bounce back with a focus on rebuilding the industry, building employment and pursuing different marketing strategies.
“COVID has given a very different lens and a reason for change,” said Simon.
“You only really get great change when there’s discomfort, and COVID has created a hell of lot of discomfort.”
Peter Tudehope said the major focus was how to keep their employees engaged during this very tough period of uncertainty, adding that the focus must be on the long term.
“I don’t think in my experience in hotels, and I’ve been in them for a very long time, I’ve quite experienced what we’re dealing with at the moment. It’s certainly the challenge now, and it’s a great challenge – almost an exciting challenge – of how do you rebuild our industry,” Peter said.
The panelists were reassuring when addressing students preparing for careers in hospitality and aged care,
“Aged care and hospitality are growing. They’re businesses based on people, and they will always be. It needs talent, it’s a growth industry,” Simon McGrath said.
Peter Tudehope urged people entering the hospitality industry to be part of the rebuild, saying that wherever they work, they would learn so much.
“In my mind, this is a fast track to these people being the industry leaders of the future,” Peter said.
The speakers provided an honest appraisal of the current situation, but were also clearly optimistic about the remainder of the year. They agreed that domestic tourism will potentially seize opportunities to rebuild business, followed by the international market once borders are open and flights resume.
Our speakers from both hospitality and aged care also emphasised the importance of quality service during and beyond the recovery period and the potential for hotels to lead the way.
Watch the full episode here.
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