The COVID-19 pandemic hit the travel and hospitality landscape hard, with precautionary orders and cautious consumer behavior impacting all aspects of industry business. It remains important for business leaders to take steps that enable their teams to navigate this continuing crisis carefully and deliberately.
To help you survive this fluid situation, we looked to Liz Elting for advice. A business leader, entrepreneur, and philanthropist who shepherded her company TransPerfect from a startup into a billion-dollar enterprise through both 9/11 and the 2008 financial meltdown, Elting provided these nine necessities for business survival:
- Set the tone. You can’t predict the future, but you must do what you can to provide calm, steady leadership. This will help reassure the people who work for you.
- Have backup plans for your backup plans. When companies lurched suddenly over to work-from-home arrangements in the early days of the pandemic, problems arose as tools like conference call systems were overwhelmed by volume beyond capacity. The whole world is still rushing to find the best technological solutions, and this process is going to take time. Plan accordingly.
- Maintain person-to-person connection. After 9/11, flights in the United States were grounded for weeks, which meant that business travel was impossible. Thankfully, in 2020 we have tools we didn’t have 19 years ago to keep in touch. That means that it’s time to back off from email and text and engage more over voice or video. Don’t become a disconnected presence.
- Be a proactive communicator. If you weren’t a big communicator before, you have to step up and be one now. You need to make sure your team and your customers know what’s happening step by step. Stay in touch, stay together, and make sure your employees know they’re not alone.
- ABC (always be closing). You need to hustle like you’ve never hustled before. There’s a strong tendency for potential clients to grow timid in these uncertain times, but the same goes for your competition. Be forthright, be out there, and offer solutions to the problems of this strange new world. Don’t retrench. Don’t retreat.
- Invest in solutions for your business. I know the temptation during a crisis is to preserve cash. But you need to keep your business running, and that’s not going to happen with half-measures or workarounds. If you haven’t already been doing so, make it a priority to find technologies and tools that fit your business now and into the future. Give your team time to get up to speed, too. There’s going to be a learning curve, so make sure to emphasize scheduling and goal setting to keep everyone on track.
- Lean on your team. Remember that you aren’t alone. It’s not your responsibility to solve this crisis by yourself or immediately. You’ve hired a team you trust and believe in. Now is the time to lean on their collective experience, intelligence and wisdom to make the right decisions.
- Re-evaluate your finances. These are lean times, the likes of which the United States hasn’t faced in quite a while. Cut where you can. Do whatever you can to preserve cash flow without cutting people. And the Fed is busy injecting capital into the financial system and slashing interest rates, which means cash is going to be cheap.
- Commit to the common good. You need to understand the weight of the historical moment we are in and act with integrity. This isn’t a time to shirk responsibilities or balk on commitments. Reaffirm your commitment to your team. If your company is healthy, you have a responsibility to support your team through this crisis. These are times that make and break leaders, and we have an opportunity here to not only survive the crisis, but to create whatever comes after.
A version of this article was originally published by Women Leading Travel & Hospitality’s sister brand, Women in Retail Leadership Circle.