COVID-19 support

Life in the time of a Micro-Biological Tsunami

April 1, 2020

Onboard industry consultants at The Hayward Partnership are working to support airlines and suppliers across all elements of their operations. Here MD Lance Hayward shares the team’s thinking…

On 26 December 2004, the world was shocked when Indonesia, Sri Lanka, India, Thailand and other neighbouring countries were hit with a devastating tsunami. This tsunami killed an estimated 228,000 people in 14 countries, making it one of the deadliest natural disasters in recorded history.

On 22 March 2020, at the time of writing, the total number of recorded deaths from COVID-19 stood at just below 14,000, but what is daunting is that left unchecked and at the current growth rate of fatalities, that number could reach 3.6m in just eight weeks.

The ‘Hobson’s choice’ we are facing, is that in order to halt or slow down the march of COVID-19, global economies have had to grind to a halt, and the impact of that on the long-term wellbeing of society is wide reaching and as yet unknown.

This Micro-biological Tsunami has created a new paradigm in the scale of natural disasters.

But we are not the dominant species on the planet for no reason! History shows that we are resilient beyond measure and when disaster strikes, we unerringly come together and adapt, re-invent and re-focus in order to come out stronger.

I’d like to think that we in the travel industry are more resilient than most. Yes, we have to make some tough short-term decisions, remove costs and get inwardly focussed right now, but the best of us do it with a compassion and professionalism and an eye for the future that will ensure that we have a stronger, more resilient industry when this is all over.

Forget this year’s budget plan …its gone and irrecoverable, that is a painful reality, but it is essential to protect and support your talented people, move on and re-define targets based on what can be managed and not what is merely assumptive.

Better to focus on a new way of working, leaner workstreams, smarter, broader, solutions, the more holistic and integrated the better, and look outside your core business model, look at the opportunity of diversity in range of products and services, and re-focus on your targets (i.e source new channels). Use the fallow period now to get plenty of ideation moving.

Cash is king to stay alive so be prudent and save wherever possible on all outgoings, except do reserve precious funds to retain your best talent – you will need them for the recovery. This will mean pragmatic and tough decisions will be in play and such issues must now be re-visited daily such is the speed of the current downturn.

Maintain your prized network and client relationships, do try to engage and support your customers, they need to know you are there and will offer help with the way back’

With regards to the immediate horizon, ‘social distancing’ already seems like a long prison sentence, and our hearts go out to everyone experiencing personal tragedy with vulnerable loved ones. Regrettably, none of us will be untouched by this and we all need to support each other on a personal level through this very difficult time.

We do also need to take strength from the fact that this will soon be over. The early indication from China is that this is a wave which will start to dissipate after three to four months. We need to be ready to ramp up.

We have the benefit of having strong, experienced leadership in our industry and many I know are pushing ahead with radical new models and game-changing initiatives.

We in The Hayward Partnership are using this period to assist our customers with short term cost reduction and cash-flow management initiatives and helping them plan for the ramp-up phase.

We are also supporting all those talented individuals who find themselves temporarily out of work due to the extraordinary measures being taken and will be doing our utmost to get them back into suitable roles as quickly as possible.