The COVID-19 crisis has affected virtually every industry on Earth, but perhaps none as much as travel and hospitality.
With everyone fearful and taking refuge in their homes, the leaders had to strategize to survive until the next day. Among them: Chris Nassetta, CEO of hotel giant Hilton. Nassetta spoke to Reuters about how C-Suite executives are dealing with such existential threats – and coming out the other side.
Q: Few industries have been as disrupted as yours, so what have you learned from this moment in history? A: It reinforced what we knew as we lived through other crises, like 9/11 and the Great Recession. Over time we have developed a manual on how to deal with the crisis, and this year we have probably added a few new chapters.
The basics of the playbook are basically the same. I call them the three Ps: the first is to protect people since we have hundreds of thousands of team members and nearly 200 million clients. The second is to protect the core business, to ensure that we have the capacity to withstand anything.
And the third is preparing for the recovery because what goes down goes up. The deeper the crisis, the greater the opportunity. Q: As a leader, people look to you for guidance – how do you deal with that when you don’t really know what to expect?
A: When there are big unknowns, what people want to trust is that you have a plan to address them. Create visibility on your plan by constantly communicating; divide your plan into parts, so people can see the progress; then celebrate the successes you have with the plan. If you do that, people will believe that the sun will rise tomorrow. It’s the job of a leader, in good and bad times: to paint a picture for people in the organization and to inspire and motivate them to be a part of something bigger than themselves.
Q: Did this era cause you to rethink certain ways of doing business? A: Yes and no. If you wake up in a year or two, even though there will be changes, I think more things will be the same than different. My philosophical point of view is to be a steady hand behind the wheel.
But at a micro level, it’s an opportunity to change a lot of things. Issues like contactless entry or controlling your room’s environment from your own device, or the way we deliver basic items like housekeeping or food and drink. It’s an opportunity to take a step back and ask, “What do customers want – and what could we do differently?” “
Q: The work equation is changing rapidly with the Great Resignation. How are you doing? A: This is probably the biggest challenge we’ve had. It does subside a bit, but it will take time.
For six consecutive years, we have been named âWorld’s Best Place to Workâ, so for a long time we focused on creating an amazing culture. In today’s world, we also pay more and continue to seek out benefits and access different labor pools, such as temporary workers who want gigs for more limited periods. Q: You mentioned the crisis as containing opportunities. What opportunities do you see for the industry?
A: People have long reoriented the way they spend their disposable income, away from things and more towards experiences. This has been going on for 10 or 20 years. Now people are realizing, after being locked in their basements for so long, that life is very short. They want to go out and travel, see the world, meet family, friends and loved ones – and experience cultures.
It’s the human condition to want to interact with people, and once we’re fully through COVID, that’s going to propel us forward. Q: What advice do you have for surviving the dark times?
A: Before COVID, it was one of the fastest growing industries on Earth, and I’m confident that when we get to the other side, we’ll pick up where we left off. It’s a dynamic company, and there are a lot of opportunities for young people to grow. Look at me: I started flushing a toilet at a Holiday Inn in Washington, DC, and now I’m running one of the biggest companies in the world.
(This story was not edited by Devdiscourse staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)