“I think what was really encouraging and very nice to see was that everybody understood very quickly we are all in this together. We are real partners.”
Although Lisa acknowledges that a number of businesses in the industry have been less willing to share as much information as others, the majority have been remarkably open, which has created a more friendly and collaborative situation. How long this will last beyond the pandemic is more uncertain, as Lisa is quick to point out that her business exists in a highly competitive market.
However, one area that may be set to be changed for good is in how she, and others in positions like hers, work. Given the round-the-clock nature of hospitality – “you know, it’s 365 days a year, 24/7 always” – the flexibility that has arisen from the restrictions imposed on office working have allowed Lisa and her colleagues to evolve to an on-call model that shakes off the outdated nine-to-five structure, and it could end up resulting in greater productivity.
“I think you’re more productive knowing you can be everywhere.”
Lisa is also positive about the future of her sector and though she acknowledges that some people still feel too concerned for their safety to travel, staying in one of her organisation’s properties is one of the safest places to be.
“I think my clients should feel confident whilst travelling, for sure. The space that Rosewood and VistaJet are in is one of the safest for clients. I think they should be confident that they should be able to relax and enjoy their time because we don’t want to deprive them of the perfect experience that they want.”
For Lisa, the resilience of the luxury traveler and their keenness to travel once things return to normal is reassuring and exciting. Also exciting is the increased eagerness for people to travel as a family and to embrace more adventurous trips, which she considers might have come from the social distance caused by the pandemic, with family members unable to see each other.
“… they want to travel as a family, they want to explore things that maybe they took for granted before. So, they will see it with a different eye. People will be more adventurous with their travel and immersion into culture, and that is exciting.”
While hopeful of a return to some normality in the second quarter of 2021, following a more extensive rollout of the COVID-19 vaccines in the first quarter, Lisa expects the recovery in her part of the industry to be on the slow side, partly due to the uncertainty around corporate travelers being permitted to travel and group travelers unlikely to be resurfacing until the latter half of next year due to health issues surrounding mixed group travel.
“I don’t see groups coming back until Q3 or Q4 2021 because there is no one that’s going to take a large group of 150 people on a plane or a bus or on a boat. Mass transportation is going to be a little more on the slower side to recovery.”
Lisa considers industry partnerships as one of the keys to success. But instead of being tempted to do partnerships for the sake of it, she sees the good work is in aligning with the right partners, who have a proper understanding of what luxury is to their clients.
“It’s the key to success, definitely … it needs to be a partner that has the same sort of understanding of our clients as we do. It’s very important to have partnerships that will have the same benefits for both parties. And not to do partnerships just because.”
Lisa Selvin Aparicio is Director of Global Sales at Rosewood Hotels & Resorts. For her, the most positive and surprising aspect to arise from the chaos that the pandemic created was a sense of camaraderie among partners and other players in the industry.