It is a given that the tourism and hospitality industry are at the mercy of many external circumstances way beyond our control. This ranges from political upheavels, climatic considerations, natural calamities, diplomatic relations between nations, financial ups and downs – the list is endless !! And the same is proven once again, at the time of the Corona Virus. While all have been impacted globally, I do not think any industry has been as badly hit as tourism, hospitality and aviation.
It is unfair to profit in times like these and we at the Tree of Life Resorts and very conscious of this. All guests wanting to cancel any reservation till April 15 are being offered the option to re-book for a later date prior to 30 September 2020 at a 15% discount on the rate booked. Should he / she not want to do so, an immediate refund is processed – no questions asked. For bookings which are after 15 April, we are offering the same and should the guest still want to cancel, we will look at it case and case and may levy a minimum cancellation charge. Considerations for the domestic and inbound guests will vary.
How do we cope with this crisis of unimaginable magnitude? For starters, let us take it on the chin – it has happened and it is here to stay, I am honestly aghast at the defeatist and self-pitying attitude I am seeing on social media from so many people. Of course there will be a financial crisis in your Company; of course you will have to take tough decisions to reduce staff; of course things will come to a stand still – these are a given ! What counts most in times like these is constant and open communication with your team members. Please do not do anything behind their back !! It is most unfair of managements to spring surprises on those very people who have served your company well till ten days ago ! It is equally important to keep your present and future guests update on how things stand.
We cannot pussy foot – quick and decisive measures have to be taken and the magnitude of the measures taken will really vary from business to business. We at the Tree of Life Resorts are sending a majority of our staff in every Unit on paid leave for 2 to 3 weeks. Only skeleton staff is being kept back for daily upkeep and caring for the few guests who check in. This will also ensure that our staff and guests do not come in close contact with too many unknown people. The situation will be reviewed in first week of April and depending on how the over all situation has progressed, we will take the next steps. No, we are not doing any lay-offs or pay cuts as the first step – there are our team members who are depending on us. Quite obviously, taking care of all protective measures for guests and staff is a given.
And it is in these trying times that everyone looks to the Government for support, for bail outs, for tax cuts and benefits. Unfortunately, our Government is also grappling with so many situations that I doubt it will have the time or the capacity to pay heed to any of the request that our various Associations are making. The fall-out of our reaching out to the Government is that every individual Association is putting up it’s wish list with more or less the same points of appeal. One nodal Association should put forth the wish list of the entire industry and that nodal Association should then be the contact point with the Government rather than each one adding to the confusion and being repetitive.
And when will this end ? The dates of March 31 and 15 April are no magical ones. They are just an expression of optimism, of hope, that by then things should limp back to normal. However, there is no guarantee so please do not plan your future steps with these dates in mind. Go all the way to 1st May at least and if it ‘normalises’ earlier, good for all of us. These times are just one of the many tests for us in the industry. We have always bounced back and will do so this time too – just that the blow has been pretty lethal with this one!! God bless!
Himmat Anand is the Founder of Tree of Life Resorts