Article Summary:

The U.K. would have faced a different 2020 without COVID-19, but the virus and its trashing of the economy will force all U.K. businesses to have a strategy that accounts for health protocols, reduced demand, increased unemployment and thus lower spend and a potentially weaker currency.

Primary Category: Opinions

Secondary Categories: Europe, Management, Operations

Hotel News Now has been accused of late by a small number of readers (thanks for your emails and comments, by the way) of being pessimistic, all doom and gloom.

We do not think that is true. We attempt to report and analyze developments in the hotel industry, talk to those who are innovative and who are pushing the sector and establishing a conversation with everyone working or interested in this great field.

We report on the good and great, and we report on the bad and dismal, and there can be no argument that COVID-19 and its devastation of economies are firmly in the latter camp.

Yes, we can report on the opportunities, goodwill and community that coronavirus has brought along with it, and we are, but right now for most the clouds are dark and amassing.

Brighter times will come, and we’ll be there, too.

Which brings me optimistically to the doom and gloom of the United Kingdom, where I live.

On 5 June, the death toll from COVID-19 in the U.K. went above the 40,000 mark, the second-highest on the planet. Last week, the government said everyone coming to the U.K., other than those from the Republic of Ireland, will have to quarantine for 14 days, Brits included. It has just now instigated a trace-and-track system, and on 4 June it was announced it would be mandatory to wear masks or face coverings on public transport starting 15 June.

Some politicians state that both are being done too late. Others state that the government has faithfully held to the medical advice.

Where the hotel industry and economy will see its greatest pain, though, I believe, is that interception of unemployment and ongoing Brexit negotiations (remember Brexit?) that will occur when the virus threat is somewhat minimized.

The U.K. is now not part of the European Union, but discussions on trade deals with the member bloc continue, so essentially Brexit continues.

When international travel restarts, the U.K. might also have the disadvantage of the pound sterling being far weaker than other currencies that are not affected by Brexit.

The opportunity here is for hotel firms to remember that the economy will be different by the end of this year in addition to what changes a post-COVID-19 world brings.

It is likely a deal with the EU will be finalized by the U.K., mainly as it is in the best interests of both parties to have one that works, rather than for the U.K. to crash out (that term still is being used, but it might be a petering) with no deal and adopt World Trade Organization regulations.

It’s no surprise unemployment is coming. Understandably the world is fixated on the virus, but governments need to start thinking of how society will look in six months’ time. Hotel firms should be looking at what staffing opportunities there will be, and what talent might have fallen through the cracks as the result of this once-in-a-century mega-disaster.

Preparation is key. We are seeing that all firms in all sectors are doing sterling work making sure that business can return safely, but once all those furlough payments end, there will be a very different society waiting for them.

National debt has and will skyrocket, and that must be paid back somehow.

How it is paid back may well put additional pressure on hotel firms faced still with fewer guests, less restaurant tables and a noticeable dip in group bookings.

Thinking about how the U.K. works and plans in a world post-COVID-19 peak but still discussing Brexit and facing social changes we’ve not see in a decade is critical.

One good thing, I guess, is that the Leaver-Remainer battle is over, squashed by COVID-19, probably to the relief of all who watch the nightly TV news roundups.

This is not doom. Honestly, it’s opportunity. It is just what needs to be top of the meeting agenda.

Email Terence Baker or find him on Twitter.

The opinions expressed in this blog do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Hotel News Now or its parent company, STR and its affiliated companies. Bloggers published on this site are given the freedom to express views that may be controversial, but our goal is to provoke thought and constructive discussion within our reader community. Please feel free to comment or contact an editor with any questions or concerns.

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Headline: Virus obscures UK’s dramatically difficult future

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