These last few weeks as an American have been chilling. Watching the world shut down around you is eye opening and truly a once in a lifetime experience. One day our lives were normal. We drove to work. We went shopping with friends. We had brunch on Sunday. The next, we were all quarantined to our home and self-isolating from the unknown.
The current state of the world could change life for over a decade if we aren’t careful. Many businesses are laying people off and closing their doors. There are talks of global shut downs for weeks, months, or even up to a year. All is unknown. Nobody can predict what is going to happen next or how we will manage what may come.
Scientists are still working diligently to figure out how to kill the virus, how it spreads, and how many different types of this virus there are. There are many medical workers globally working together to stop this. But in reality, we as a species need to collectively work together to stop this.
Why does it take a global pandemic for businesses to realize how they should be sanitizing work stations?
Why does it take a global pandemic for humans to learn how to properly wash their hands, let alone wash them in general?
Why does it take a global pandemic for humans to realize that this species is harming our planet? The very planet that allows us the opportunity to live. The planet that feeds us. The planet that gives us fresh water. The planet that gives us oxygen and fresh air to breathe.
Maybe, just maybe, a power greater than all of us is telling the human species to slow down. Maybe this greater power is allowing all of us the opportunity to stay home and reevaluate our lives and priorities. It is very likely that we will never get another chance in our lifetime to simply be still. To spend quality time with family. To live in the moment. To reprioritize our lives and realize what actually matters in life.
In doing so, Mother earth is healing herself. Air pollution around the world is decreasing. The Grand Canal in Venice is quickly cleaning itself. Maybe, just maybe, a power great than all of us is trying to teach us a lesson. If we don’t take care of this planet, this planet will not take care of us.
With all of that said, let’s get into the hospitality industry and discuss what this means for all of us. For wedding couples. For small businesses. For annual conferences. For venues.
As someone who works in this industry, I’ve watched hundreds of weddings cancel and/or postpone. The first piece of advice I want to give is for the wedding couples:
Please do not cancel your wedding. Postpone instead.
Cancelling events is what is hurting small businesses. Use this as a time to save more money for your big day and pay it off before your wedding. This way, you are going into your wedding day fully paid off. Who wants to get married and then the day after, stress about how much you owe on an event that already happened?
Use this time to make sure your big day is planned to a T. Take time going through timelines. Take time ensuring your design elements are just how you want them. This is an opportunity for you to breathe and give yourself permission to take time and plan your big day.
Do not cancel. Postpone instead.
Small businesses will work with you to update your payment schedules to accommodate financial burdens due to this crisis. They will work with you on finding another date. You aren’t the only one experiencing this. There are thousands and thousands of other couples wondering if they will ever get married.
Postponing benefits the wedding couple and the small business.
When you postpone, you are allowing yourself the opportunity to breathe and take more time to plan your special day. When you postpone, you are giving a small business the opportunity to stay in business.
Here is my advice for small businesses:
Do not give refunds. Give credits instead.
As a vendor in this industry, I can fully attest to this: our hearts and souls are in our businesses. We thrive off of passion and love for events, especially weddings. So I understand how easy it can be to feel for the wedding couple or the soon to be mother who is planning her bridal shower. I understand why you are so willing to give money back and fully refund events. But you also have to understand when I say,
This is putting you on the fast track to go out of business. Especially during this crisis. Here are suggestions and ways to maneuver through these situations:
1. Do not refund any non-refundable deposits.
2. Do offer to postpone and help pick another date.
3. Do offer credit to the client for a future date and/or future event.
This ensures 1) you stay in business, and 2) your client gets to host their event! They want to host their event just as much as you want to stay in business. It’s truly a win-win.
The advice above is also relevant to annual conferences and venues. It’s important during this time that we do not react. We need to take our time and strategize to make logical decisions for the betterment of our businesses, our clients, the economy, and society as a whole.
We all must work together more than we ever have before. This is the time for community and collaboration over competition. Set up virtual meetings and start discussing how we can collaborate to lift up our local communities and avoid devastation.
We’re taking this time to strategize and come up with solutions and ideas to better our community, but more importantly, this industry. The hospitality industry is getting hit so hard. Venues are closing due to major shut downs. And in response, many people are going unemployed. Unlike other industries who are able to stay in business and allow their employees to work from home, there are many people in hospitality who cannot and unfortunately do not have that luxury. This includes, bartenders, servers, banquet staff, meeting planners, housekeepers, and so much more!