We find ourselves in very troubling times. A time when we are asked to socially isolate, to work remotely, to trust the words of those who have been untrustworthy in the past, and to simply wait and see. We are naturally skeptical, inherently frightened, and for the most part void of any real plan moving forward. Our first instinct is to introvert, to protect ourselves and those close to us – yes, to horde supplies and discount the needs of others in lieu of finding some comfort in preparedness. We want our government to step in, or someone to step in and tell us what to do, and when they fail in this regard – panic sets in. All of this, to some degree, is predictable, scary, and sad.
This may very well be a “re-set time”, a time for all of us to take a hard look at what we have become in recent years. We are a society bent on polarization of thought, a society that has all too willingly allowed ourselves to sit in our silos of belief and scorn those who think differently. We all know in our hearts that this is wrong, but have, nonetheless, allowed ourselves to stand in line with those polarized beliefs. Maybe this is a time to take a “time out” and rethink where we are and what we have become.
“Out of an abundance of caution” is a phrase that is used as commonly as “have a good day” and when those around us tell everyone to engage in social isolation – we easily agree knowing that it is, at this time, the right thing to do. As a member of the global community we have an obligation to do whatever is necessary to stop or at least slow down the spread of this virus. This is, without a doubt, essential. Yet, human beings are social animals. We crave social interaction – it is what gives us energy and joy, it is what makes us smile and what stimulates our emotions, it is what gives us life and a real desire to jump out of bed each morning and greet the day. To socially isolate is to give away all of those aspects of life that are physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually essential. We do this now, but know in our hearts that this will be the long-term danger that Covid-19 brings.
I am a willing part of an industry whose entire existence is based on the need for social interaction. The hospitality business, one of the most prevalent industries worldwide, is a business of people, by people, and for people. We exist to bring people together, to create environments for enjoyment and laughter, to heal and console, and to give our employees an opportunity to give of their talents and their passion so that others may express their joy for life. It is to me, and millions of others, an essential business.
This essential business is, on the other hand, very fragile. What many outside of those who work in hotels, travel industries, restaurants, cafes, and coffee shops, do not realize is just how fragile this business is. You may realize that many hourly employees who work in these industries, especially those who wear the logo of those small mom and pop entrepreneurships, do so for meager wages, without benefits, and as a result live paycheck to paycheck. What you may not know is that the businesses themselves are in the same boat. A day of poor sales makes a restaurant or café cringe with disappointment. A week of poor sales makes that same business cringe in fear, and the thought of a longer period of time with weak or no sales bring about inherent doom and gloom. There are no contingency funds, no stash of money under the mattress, no fat savings accounts to tap into. Banks are reluctant, for good reason, to even build in a line of credit for fear of restaurant failure. So, social isolation and mandated closings strike real fear into the depths of an owner’s soul. They know that business collapse could be imminent and that this will mean that their loyal employees will face a lack of funds to pay rent, or money to put food on their table at home.
These are trying times and we must do what we must do for the health and wellbeing of our communities. There is no question about our responsibility in this regard. But, we must give some thought past our immediate safety to what lies ahead once the virus is under control. It may be a few weeks, but it could be months – no one seems to have a handle on that yet, except to point to our role in bringing this to an end. Yes, we must think globally at this time and do what is necessary to deal with a real crisis.
Typically, when a national or world crisis such as this comes to life – the hospitality industry is one of the first to be impacted. It is also true that once we rise out of crisis mode the hospitality industry is one of the first to try and recover. Social isolation leaves a big hole in our lives and once the imminent danger subsides – we crave opportunities to come back together, re-connect, and bring a smile to our faces once again. It is the hospitality industry that gives people hope, renews friendship, and allows everyone to laugh and enjoy each other’s company. We depend on this and expect that it will happen. To this end, it is important that we act locally even during the peak of this crisis and help to shore up those restaurants, cafes, bed and breakfasts, small privately owned hotels, coffee shops, and deli operations who will struggle and may not have the capacity to survive.
There are things that we can do right now that will help. Here are some thoughts:
- If you have the financial where-with-all then stop into your neighborhood restaurant, café, or coffee shop and buy a gift certificate for a friend or for your own future use.
- This need not be significant amounts of money – a $10 gift certificate provides a bit of capital that will help that operation with cash flow over the next period of time.
- If you are a landlord with a hospitality business in one of your properties then do the right thing and negotiate a way to spread rent out over an extended period of time or even open your heart and excuse one month’s rent to give them a fighting chance.
- If you see your favorite waiter or waitress think about buying them a gift card that can help to pay their own rent or buy a few groceries to survive. Think about it as paying forward for the great service they will again provide once things settle down.
- If you don’t have the funds to do any of this then at least take a moment to write and send a thank you card to that business or that employee noting that you understand their situation and fully intend to return as a customer as soon as it is possible. Hope springs eternal. When you do return – bring a friend who may have never experienced that business before.
This is a time to hit the re-set button, to return to life as usual once this crisis has passed and do so knowing that our differences are what make us unique and that a difference of opinion is just that. We can be friends and not agree on everything. We can take the time to think of others in our community as part of whom we are and celebrate that unity at a local hotel, restaurant, café, coffee shop, or deli. Socially isolate now for the good of the global society we live in, but never lose sight of how important our local community is.
Buy a book at your local bookstore and take that off your amazon list. Buy a cup of coffee at that neighborhood independent coffee shop and thank your barista at the same time. Encourage your visiting friends to reserve a room at the mom and pop bed and breakfast rather than a chain hotel, and by all means be there to support all of those local businesses who make your community special.
THINK GLOBAL –ACT LOCAL
Be part of the return to real greatness
Harvest America Ventures, LLC