With lockdown easing I’ve taken to the road again – remaining in Scotland but catching up with family while contributing to kickstarting the hospitality sector.
My travels have taken me to Aberdeen in the north-east, via Moray and across to Inverness then back down the west coast through Fort William. In previous years I have travelled similar routes, but the absence of tourist and family holiday traffic is stark.
Going into hotels is somewhat surreal, while cafes and restaurants are struggling not only to attract customers, but also to adjust their systems to meet drastically different hygiene standards and patterns of people movement.
And this is a global phenomenon. I was reading about the Impact on Las Vegas, a place I have visited a few times in the last 25 years. We all lived with the tacit belief that the growth of travel and tourism would continue unabated. Indeed, in recent years increasing attention was being given to ‘over-tourism’. That topic looks as if it won’t be top of the agenda for some years to come.
But in spite of these challenges, the lights are being switched on again. Unfortunately, however, it is not quite as simple as flicking a switch. For some it means completely rebuilding a customer base. Others may find their product or service has been forgotten or has dropped out of favour. Staff expertise may have waned, their commitment dropped, or they might just not return. And the business systems which have been developed and honed over many years now need reinvented.
For business leaders in some sectors these are indeed tough times. And the financial pressures that make or break a business have put some businesses in a precarious position. For some, sadly, the lights won’t go back on.
I was reminded of The Neon Boneyard in Las Vegas – where the lights that have been switched off have been collected together – a mausoleum for once bright and shining lights. And in that wonderful American way of spotting opportunity, turned into a tourist attraction.
For some, dreams will have been dashed and aspirations crushed. Many of these will be people who were doing all the right things, investing in what seemed like a growing market. And the process of rebuilding lives and careers is a going to be a long slog.
And yet, we know from history that human beings have an amazing aptitude and capacity for adaptation and reinvention.
Life Goes On
And hopefully we will be better and smarter whatever area we work in. We certainly have a much better understanding of the interconnectedness, not just of our local community, or our national society, but also of the global economy and the risks that come with much greater connectivity.
And this all ripples through to us as individuals, even if we have not been directly and negatively impacted by Covid. How will our lives adapt? Can we see opportunities for personal growth and development? Of course we will mourn what is gone. But, who knows, what lies ahead might be even better.
'The most dangerous phrase in the language is "We've always done it this way."'
Stay safe. Lead well