The COVID-19 crisis has the global hospitality and tourism industries – some of the most consequential industries in the world– in uncharted territory. Nations have closed their borders. Airlines face bankruptcy. Cruises are not sailing. And, dependent businesses are reeling leaving countless hospitality and tourism employees, with limited to no paycheck for the foreseeable future.
As a community, while adjusting to and embracing the new social distancing standard, to get through the weeks and months ahead, we must ensure the continued flow of vital goods and services; support workers in the suddenly overburdened health care, food supply and delivery sectors; and keep afloat employees and small businesses in countless industries crippled by this crisis however we can.
Here are some ways to support our community, and our hospitality and tourism industry:
Order carryout, drive-through or curb-side pickup. While new bans of in-person dining have been announced, food service is allowed to continue via carryout, drive-through, delivery or curbside pickup. This means that coffee shops, restaurants and some store fronts have modified menus and customer interaction procedures to accommodate this new business model so you can place an order, and collect your meal, while never leaving your car. Support your favorite restaurants or coffee shops as often as possible.
Order delivery. Many local restaurants offer their own delivery services or subscribe to local delivery services such as Island Grub or Fine Dine In. Look for special offers of free or discounted delivery during this time. Some delivery services are even offering special discounts and loyalty programs. Ordering delivery helps support local businesses as well as community members who earn a living through providing delivery services.
Set-up a “virtual tip jar”. As sort of an emergency relief fund for those facing economic hardships, start a virtual tip jar where people eating and drinking at home are encouraged to think of their favorite local bartenders, servers or entertainers, and drop them a virtual tip via Venmo, PayPal or in the form of a gift card. There are easy to use online flatforms available to facilitate this.
Buy gift cards. Even if you can’t stay and eat, you can still throw dollars to local restaurants by purchasing gift cards for later use. This helps the businesses maintain cash flow during a needed time. Depending on the restaurant, you can order these online and can pick them up or have them mailed directly to you.
Establish a dining or attraction bond initiative. A dining or attraction bond works like a savings bond, where you can purchase a ‘bond’ at a value rate to be redeemed for face value (for example, a $100 bond for $75) at a future date. For restaurants or attractions, many of whom are small businesses and are in serious risk of shutting their doors permanently due to this crisis, the bonds can bring in much needed revenue. And for us, the community, it’s a chance to show love and support, ensuring the future of some of our favorite restaurants or attractions, not to mention the many people who may be forced out of work.
Stock up. If businesses offer non-perishable or freezable items, support them and stock your pantry at the same time. These items could include bread or pastries, meats and eggs from local farmers and butchers, packs of beer, bottles of wine or spirits, bags of coffee and more.
Book a staycation. Easter break is just about upon us, and if you have yet to make any vacation plans or if you canceled your travels, you could still get that same vacation feel with a staycation, mindful of social distancing, of course. And, most definitely support watersports companies, when possible.
Have a virtual experience. Experience our amazing destination from the comfort of your own sofa. Take a virtual tour of a local museum or attend an online art class. A virtual wine tasting with local wine tasting venues could be fun.
Adopt an elderly neighbor. Use an online food delivery service and have a meal delivered to someone in need or an elderly neighbor. Support a local business, and the community at the same time.
Donate time, money or goods to food programs. Food insecurity is one impact of schools and businesses closing for the pandemic. The Cayman Food Bank supports various food pantries so that food is available to those who will face hardships in the upcoming months. Food and beverage venues with food overages due to closings can donate unused food and supplies to support the pantries- or as a community, food and monetary donation are always appreciated. Supporting Meals on Wheels, a local program designed to feed the elderly or shut-in can also use assistance to ensure our elderly receive healthy immune building meals.
Book a family photo shoot. There are so many people and businesses directly and indirectly impacted by the tourism industry. Think of those who support the industry through the services they provide and utilize their services in creative ways if you can.
Tip well. If you order carryout or delivery and have the ability to tip extra, please do. These shutdowns will impact hourly wage-earners particularly hard. So, leave a good tip.
Check-in. If you know someone who works in the hospitality and tourism industry or in a business affected by the crisis, check-in on them. They are so many people who depend on tourism in our community and they can use our support.
It’s clear that our industry’s economic reality will now change somewhat drastically to accommodate the more pressing public health reality, but maybe this crisis invites an opportunity for creativity in the way we as an industry do business moving forward. Our hospitality and tourism industry is resilient and we will recover to be better than ever.
On a personal note, while I do not profess to be an expert in the uncharted territory our industry faces, I am an industry veteran available to donate my time and resources to serve as a consultant or as additional support for any hospitality and tourism related business who needs assistance with local online marketing, social media campaigns, drafting new policies and procedures for take-out or delivery services, training for a new service style, and setting up new programs including some mentioned in this article. Let me know how I may assist. We’re in this together.
Brooke Meyer is the managing partner of Caymera International, a Caymanian-owned hospitality and tourism consulting and advisory firm. She’s an industry veteran and holds a master’s certificate in Hospitality Management from Cornell University in Ithaca, NY and has also earned continuing education certifications in Hotel Real Estate and Asset Management, Digital Marketing, and Revenue Management from Cornell University. Visit Caymera at www.caymeragroup.com or email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.