Thriving post-COVID from those that were hit hardest

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Thriving post-COVID from those that were hit hardest
Hotels have been among the worst affected businesses.
Photo by Tuan Nguyen on Unsplash

All businesses have had to learn resilience in the past 12 months.

However, despite being dealt hard blows, some were able to quickly adapt and are now thriving. Alongside an appetite for innovation, the key for many was their use of technology.

We know small businesses were hit hard. According to the ABS, during the peak of the pandemic’s impact last year, small businesses were almost twice as likely to report that they expected to find it difficult or very difficult compared to large businesses (35% compared to 18%).

It’s now a pivotal moment for many companies. The rapidly changing environment is offering growth opportunities to businesses that are powered by agile, modern technologies like cloud computing, analytics,and mobility. In contrast, those that rely on legacy applications and systems, may have difficulty adjusting to a transformed business environment. 

I saw first hand how one particular sector — accommodation providers — was affected more than most. With international tourists vanishing and local tourism greatly reduced, hotel and accommodation businesses had to learn a lot and quickly. However, many were able to pivot to survive and use technology to improve efficiencies and secure new revenue streams.

Target those you can

In the case of hotels, they lost their main source of revenue: guests. However, by being smart and re-evaluating their business models, many were able to offer value in other ways. For some this included expanding their kitchen offering, or putting on events or entertainment solely with local communities in mind. Remember, hotels are often in prime locations, making them accessible and perfect for hosting events.

For example, King Island Hotel, which sits on its namesake, between mainland Australia and Tasmania saw its room occupancy rates drop from 80% to 10% last year. In response, King Island Hotel shifted its focus away from non-existent tourists to the 1200+ population of its island and instead catered to those it could help and provide value to. 

By extending the restaurant’s opening hours, the hotel went from preparing 40 meals a day to 150. Putting this into context - amazingly - the hotel was feeding 10% of the island’s population everyday. 

In other words, focus on those you can serve, rather than worrying too much about those you can’t. Don’t let what’s not possible at the moment distract you from the current opportunity in front of you. 

Invest in technology

When times are tough, cut-backs are understandable and sometimes necessary. However, where possible businesses should always set capital aside for long-term investments that will provide lasting benefits to the core business. 

At Preno, this is something we saw with the hotels that we work with. Even during the pandemic, we were helping boutique hotels automate manual processes and cut-down on the amount of admin that staff had to do.

As an investment, technology does tend to deliver good returns. The right tech can speed things up, simplify processes and create better customer experiences. For example, on average, 40% of businesses state that the top reason for investing in cloud technology is to improve business resilience and agility — key business qualities during uncertain times. For small businesses, investing in technology can save money in the long-run.  

Throughout the pandemic, Deloitte observed flat or increasing technology budgets in most organisations. Many technology leaders even reported that COVID-19 brought an opportunity to quickly bring technology investments online, and in some cases, increase investment. 

Of course, all businesses were impacted in different ways during the pandemic – and some still are feeling the fallout — therefore what works for one may not work for all. However, hotels were among the worst affected businesses, yet we can learn a lot from them in terms of their ability to pivot and use technology to their advantage.

Amelia Gain is co-founder and CEO of hotel management tool Preno.

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