‘We can pull through this - together’ - Michael Caines

Michael Caines MBE. Picture: Tony Gussin

Michael Caines MBE. Picture: Tony Gussin - Credit: Archant

‘We can pull through this - together’

So here we go again. The hospitality sector once more faces an uncertain few weeks.

As I write this, we are still waiting for clarification on what the second lockdown means precisely for our hotels but what I do know is that I’ll soon be ripping up another business plan.

It looks like there is going to be further government support with an extension of the furlough scheme but our revenue is still going to be hit hard.

Because of the last lockdown, November was looking amazing with people choosing to holiday at home and the holiday season being extended well beyond the norm.

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However, it looks like that much-needed money is going to be lost and that’s a concern to me.

If this ‘circuit breaker’ means we can open again in December, that might be the lesser of two evils.

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The festive period is a busy one for us and we really need it to happen this year.

Having said that, we all have to put to one side our personal interests and think about the wider community and society as a whole.

It’s clear the disease is spreading and just one death is one death too many.

For me, the focus will be on coming out the other side and bringing everyone with me.

On the bright side we, as a team, have learned a lot from last time and we will be even better prepared when the restrictions are lifted.

We have all the PPE equipment in place now and we’re well versed in terms of the procedures and practices.

The last few, busy, months have also given us a cash injection which we weren’t sure we were going to receive.

And once we are out of lockdown, I am confident that, once again, there is going to be a big appetite for people to come out again to eat and stay over.

I believe that the next bounce back could be bigger than the last. I’m optimistic that people will rebook and that may play into our hands in terms of January, when we would normally close, and February, which is traditionally quiet.

Looking back though, 2020 is going to go down as my toughest in business.

It’s been a case of permanently adapting, changing and learning how to survive and, more importantly, prosper.

It’s also taken its toll mentally, not just in terms of my own pressures but in relation to the people who work for me.

At times like this, they are looking to me for leadership, guidance and reassurance.

They say it’s lonely at the top and that has never more been the case than during this pandemic.

I’ve been through a roller coaster of emotions since March and it looks like that is only set to continue.

Luckily, I have the support of my investors who have been incredibly understanding and I have a wide network of contacts I can call upon.

In some ways it’s reassuring, to know that you are not alone.

I’m speaking to colleagues in hospitality across the world who are suffering and facing similar challenges.

And it is the same whether you are a carpenter or in the car hire business.

For my part, I am going to spend the next few weeks planning for when this latest lockdown is lifted and drawing up contingency plans.

Even if we do get a vaccine, we will be living with the virus for some time to come.

If my team know we have a clear plan, that we are prepared as best we can be and that we are doing the right things, that is half the battle.

We can’t change the situation but we can change how we respond to it and how we work through it, together.

Whatever you are doing, I wish you all the best and please stay safe.

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