COVID-19 prematurely ends 2019/20 ski season

 

The unfolding COVID-19 crisis has been like a tsunami, rippling to all corners of the globe and causing shock, bewilderment and confusion.

The pandemic has resulted in a lock-down by governments, in an effort to mitigate and slow the spread of the virus, unlike anything we have experienced in living memory. Austrian, Swiss and French governments acted in unison just under two weeks ago and in a matter of days closed down the entire ski industry for the remainder of the season, a full month-and-a-half earlier than scheduled.

The situation is still fluid, and we can anticipate further interventions through to complete quarantine if the virus continues its rampant spread and the numbers of fatalities continue to accelerate. The unknowns around just how much of an existential threat this could be is too much of a risk for governments not to take further extreme action on society.

The first three months of 2020 have been dominated by news of the spread of COVID-19 to Europe and the rest of the world. (As of publication, on March 24, global deaths had reached 17,000)

 

So where does this leave us?

As individuals, and in our homes, we have no option but to choose a slower life over the coming weeks. With schools, and all but essential services now closed, families are grounded, and busy schedules are now simplified. Perhaps out of this we can groom a healthier lifestyle where our time is allocated according to our choices rather than the never-ending expectation of life in 2020!

What about our economic health?

The economic impact across the planet is going to span into the trillions of dollars and the financial burden of this will be felt by all: governments, business and individuals alike. With the travel industry brought to its knees over the past two weeks, there will doubtless be many businesses who don’t survive to a post-COVID era.

It is a time of crisis for all travel companies as we first of all weather the immediate drought by battening down the hatches, but also as we re-evaluate our business model to emerge in the new world prepared and ready for new ways of doing business.

Times of crisis are incredibly stressful, especially when the future is such an unknown. But there are always opportunities and positives to grasp at. For individuals and businesses alike, it is important to turn to our values to ensure that our actions and responses best serve us as we work through the immediate difficulties and search to uncover the possible opportunities for the future.

For our central and operations teams at Bramble Ski (Haute Montagne and Lagom) this means the following:

Professionalism

As we navigate through the immediate aftermath and shock of all our operations prematurely closing across the Alps, we want to ensure that we deal with all matters skillfully and competently. Where we make mistakes, inevitable with such vast expanses of grey, we want to make sure we hold our hand up, adapt, learn and get better.

As professionals, it is important that we focus on our social responsibility, and, in accordance with this, we will continue to adhere very closely to the guidelines of local government.  It is our responsibility, as business leaders, to facilitate healthy social practices within our organisation such as encouraging working from home and social distancing policies for essential meetups.

In this interim phase, while the pandemic has many more days, weeks and probably months to run its course, we will also focus on the quality of our communications with all affected parties.  It’s our responsibility to ensure that we still have a sound business that provides a livelihood for the many talented and hard-working individuals on our team once the tide recedes.

Empathy

COVID-19 will continue to touch almost everyone on the planet. It has always been an essential skill in our past successes to tune into the feelings of our guests to gain insight on surpassing expectations in luxury hospitality and we plan to draw on this value in these very difficult times too. In the extreme, with the death toll mounting, some are paying the ultimate price … if we can keep this thought forefront it can help steer us through the troubled waters ahead.

More directly though, we have to consider the frustrations of the many guests whose holiday plans have been interrupted, the home-owners whose future security is under threat, our staff who now have no work for the remainder of the season and our partners and suppliers who will be facing the same difficult decisions that we are making to ensure their businesses survive.

Through a strong sense of empathy, the hope is that we can build a collaborative response to the burden of this crisis which has no fault, and ultimately the cost of which has to be shared by all.

Agility

Key through this is our ability to be quick and nimble as we adjust and adapt to new conditions, new laws and ultimately a different playing field in the post-COVID world. If we tackle the difficulties head-on, while tweaking and tuning our business model along the way, we can come out of this in a better place.

The key here is to notice and grasp the opportunities for change that this calamity presents, to address the areas that needed work but that in the lead-up to 2020 we never quite had time for. Through an agile framework we hope to evolve into a new, stronger and more resilient organisation.

Embrace our environment

We are so lucky to call the mountains our home. Through these difficult times we can still go walking in the forest and connect with nature. We’d like to believe that these moments in nature can give us a sound and reasonable mindset in a chaotic and panicked world.

Perhaps this is the final piece of the puzzle? Sustainability professionals are reeling trying to figure out what COVID means to sustainability. And could it be that the opportunity that lies at our fingertips, is the chance to emerge post-COVID with a clearer mindset? With a better idea of how we conduct business in a manner that is friendlier on our planet, and our people?

 

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