March 25, 2020
The news is bad, to put it mildly. Coronavirus is impacting nearly every facet of life around the world: cities on lockdown, shuttered schools, wild gyrations in financial markets. In the U.S., we’re only beginning to see the human toll as infection rates rise rapidly. Throughout this crisis, businesses are working to figure out the best path forward. While it’s important to manage day-to-day, it’s also critical to plan for the long-term - because when the rebound happens, it will be swift.
Let’s start with the industries that will be hit hardest: hospitality, travel and tourism, restaurants, and other parts of the service sector. In the travel industry alone, the U.S. Travel Association predicts the loss of 4.6 million jobs by the end of April. More broadly, Moody’s Analytics says 27 million jobs are at “high risk” of being eliminated due to the virus.
Susan Misfud, President of Just EventsGroup in Orlando, FL, is at the epicenter of the coronavirus economic impact, both geographically and vocationally.
“The hit to the hospitality industry here has been sudden and devastating. Every day we’re hearing about more companies shutting down and letting everybody go. Most of the hotels in Orlando will be closed by the end of this week.”
“We don’t know how long we're going to be in this and how quickly we will bounce back,” Misfud said. “But we know we will bounce back, and we need to be ready to meet the demand.”
This sentiment is exactly why it’s important to remember that while we don’t know how long the economic effects from the pandemic are going to last, we know they will be temporary, and the economy will recover.
Take restaurants, for example. Even as dining rooms are closed, they’re churning out takeout orders and we’re already seeing a flood of demand in the gig economy to make sure people get their food. Will this mean a Renaissance for delivery services such as DoorDash and Uber Eats? Quite possibly, especially as grocery stores struggle to keep their shelves stocked and people are less inclined to venture out.
But “gig” is not limited to the DoorDashes and Ubers of the world. There are a host of other gig companies providing services for everything from package delivery to design services. On the heels of Amazon’s recent announcement that they’ll hire more than 100,000 people, it’s likely these gig opportunities help provide some hard-hit workers with an avenue to earn a paycheck until their industries get back on their feet.
While workers are focused on getting through the fight, it is the recovery phase that businesses need to be prepared for. Undoubtedly, the first restaurants to reopen their doors will see a flood of applicants. However, some percentage of laid off workers will leave the irrespective industries, which could mean a lack of supply in certain sectors. As highly-impacted industries get back online, they need to look for ways to attract and keep the best talent. Economically distressed workers will look for early access to their paychecks, and more options for payment. If businesses can dedicate even a small portion of their day to the important long-term strategies of life post-pandemic, they won’t face as much of an uphill battle once the dust settles.
Although the future is unclear, now is the time to be decisive. The businesses that survive and thrive after the coronavirus will be the ones that plan and execute the best during this difficult time.