In a year full of bad news, December finally brought us some good. Vaccines that promise to help curb the pandemic and allow us to return to all those activities we have so sorely missed. Return to restaurants, return to hotels, return to travel. The pandemic not only challenged our physical health, but it has also challenged our mental health as social activities and gatherings with family, friends and others were curtailed. At the end of an exceptionally challenging year, we needed this!
“The summer of 2021 will be Euphoric!”, proclaimed Scandinavian billionaire, and owner of Nordic Choice Hotels, Petter Stordalen, in an interview with Swedish newspaper Travel News. Let’s hope he’s right and that we can all joyfully jump on a plane, train or automobile and travel freely again.
of course, as a security guy, there’s always a but, isn’t there?
What’s happened since the pandemic started, and how prepared are you for the euphoric return to normal that we’re all looking forward to?
Previous blogs at NorthPoint International have covered topics such as knowledge loss and the first casualty approach to security risk management. Many companies have downsized dramatically in the struggle for survival during a pandemic that obliterated their market. There is increased focus on hygiene and safety, more demands for accountability and, with the transition to more online, integrated and touchless transactions, the convergence between physical and cybersecurity is also now front and center in the travel industry.
Then there are all the old, well-known threats that were focused on before the pandemic. They haven’t gone away. Some are waiting for tourists and travellers to return and will exploit understaffed, untrained and unprepared properties and their guests. Others will already have been making their mark, as yet unnoticed, while focus and attention were narrowly focused on the pandemic.
As you look at the coming months and can plan for a more optimistic looking future what’s the best way forward?
Should you reach out to the recruiters and have them start looking for replacements for the people you had to let go? Should you throw the dice and hope that the first casualty approach is a risk worth taking? What are the chances you’ll be the first casualty?
Or would it be better to take a small step back and a strategic step forward?
What needs to change?
Rushing to rehire and replace key positions where people were made redundant would take you back to a pre-pandemic status that isn’t likely to meet your needs in a post-pandemic world. Hiring can also be an expensive process and what happens if the rebound is slower than expected or if another systemic shock sends you spiralling downward again? Even if you do decide to hire, you will fill a place on the organization chart but much of the knowledge loss will still take time to replace.
Strategic Intelligence – Internal and External
If you ask many people about business and risk intelligence, they tend to focus externally. They will talk of risk intelligence companies and analysts that can help you decipher what’s going on where in the world and how it might impact your business or the security of your people and customers.
Those analysts can provide an extremely valuable service. What’s often missing, is a company’s ability to glean internal intelligence from their own systems. A lot of the information is already being gathered at local levels, it’s just not visible centrally and it’s not being analyzed and its potential use as intelligence is going unrealized.
It’s overdue, but there’s no reason for the hotel industry to continue to lag when it comes to using intelligence as a basis on which to build an effective and efficient security risk management program.
Changing Perspectives and Perceptions
In a dynamic, evolving world, where the pandemic reminded us all how quickly everything can change, it is very likely you’ll be held more accountable for your state of preparedness. To me, it was disappointing that almost no companies I know of responded to Covid19 by saying they were activating their pandemic plans, which I know most of them had. Instead, they announced entirely new products and protocols that are unlikely to be sustainable in the long-term. Some even went a scary step further by reducing or removing internal expertise; people with knowledge and experience in dealing with large scale crises were let go just when their skills should have been of most benefit.
What will the reaction be if one of these companies is struck by an unfortunate incident today? Will their press release still contain the cliché “the safety and security of our guests and employees is our number one priority”? If it does, will people accept it, or will they be asked to prove that is the case.
Time to Reset
Before you let loose and enjoy the summer of euphoria, maybe you should use the coming months to strategically plan a secure, sustainable, and successful recovery.
What gives you the most dynamic, affordable and optimal set-up to align with the changing needs and evolve as the threats, risks and business opportunities constantly change? How can you make the most of technology without relying on it to perform tasks that only humans can do properly? Is it possible to partner with experienced, connected, professionals that understand your business in a way that gives you affordable access to top-notch resources?
Questions for Consideration:
- How has your organization changed since the outbreak of the global pandemic?
- How have the threats, risks and business challenges you face changed since the outbreak of the global pandemic?
- What have you done to align your current business model with the current threat environment and how have you positioned it to swiftly adapt to the changes that will come?
At NorthPoint International, we have five of the most experienced global hotel security, resilience and cybercrime leaders. Even better, we recently announced a partnership with change management advisors Vitruvius Partners Group and their world-leading experts from all aspects of high-class hospitality management and operations. They’re not turn-around specialists or consultants, they’re partners that will help you continue to move forward.
Before you try to get back to where you were, perhaps you start by evaluating where you are, where you want to go and what the best way forward is from here?
So, before you call the recruiters and start rebuilding what you once had, why not call us?