Lessons from a small journey into the post-COVID world

 

post-covid world

Believe it or not, I gave a real, live speech last week at a well-attended industry conference! In fact, the event had record attendance and I had to give the speech twice, back-to-back, so everyone could see the talk in the socially-distanced room. It was a little taste of a post-COVID world.

The association conference was VERY “COVID cautious!” It was the first time I have ever seen an official disinfectant sponsor at an event!

Since this keynote speech took place in south Florida, my wife and I decided to extend the stay and drive down to Key West for some vacation (this had been on my bucket list).

This was my first little sojourn into the post-COVID world (whatever that means) in 400 days. This is what I found.

The struggle for service

During our trip, we stayed at four different very nice hotels including a Waldorf Astoria — so this is a small but diverse sample size. We found the service at all these hotels was terrible for these reasons:

  • The service staff seemed overwhelmed. There are not enough workers to handle the surging travel demand. Many foreign workers who typically travel for the summer travel surge can’t make it to the U.S. Whether ordering food or getting help with bags, nothing was working right.
  • Normal hotel services have been reduced or eliminated. Many hotel restaurants are closed. At the Waldorf resort, there was no restaurant open for dinner other than a bar.
  • Several people told me laborers would prefer to live off an unemployment check rather than go back to work. Lingering health concerns, ongoing child care responsibilities, and the inability to do some jobs from home are just some of the other reasons why Americans are reluctant to return to work. Some are also retiring early.
  • The economic crunch in the hotel space has forced delays in repairs and upgrades, so rooms were tired and in some cases flat-out dirty. In the Waldorf Astoria, the air conditioning was broken … in 90-degree Florida weather. One manager expressed embarrassment at the state of the hotel because repairs had been delayed for more than a year.

I think the customer service crunch is going to affect almost every industry in the coming months, especially companies that have suddenly become eCommerce giants. How do you staff up so quickly in this crazy environment? Labor shortages are going to have far-ranging business implications.

Mask world

Aside from the need to wear a mask, air travel was pretty normal. In fact, the flights and airports were crowded. Like hotels, services were dramatically cut back. Some airport stores and restaurants were closed.

For the past year, I have mostly stayed home, wearing a mask for an infrequent errand run. I have to admit it became really tiresome and uncomfortable wearing a mask for 10 hours in transit. I couldn’t wait to tear that mask off. I know this is a First World problem. But I live in the First World. : )

My observation is that where masks were required, everyone pretty much followed the rules. In our hotel visits, we observed a large wedding and several corporate meetings — No masks.

All in all, it was good to get out and back on the road and at least taste a little of a post-COVID world. It felt great giving a speech again and maybe I’ll be coming to a city near you soon! Here’s hoping!

Keynote speaker Mark SchaeferMark Schaefer is the executive director of Schaefer Marketing Solutions. He is the author of several best-selling digital marketing books and is an acclaimed keynote speaker, college educator, and business consultant.  The Marketing Companion podcast is among the top business podcasts in the world. Contact Mark to have him speak to your company event or conference soon.

Follow Mark on TwitterLinkedIn, and Instagram.

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