This Washington Post story on Omicron pushed me to email my tourism and restaurant / hospitality clients last night with some ideas below. Just three hours ago, CNN reported that Omicron is the dominant strain of virus in the United States. Yikes.
I hope with all my heart I'm wrong about the impact of this spike, but I think this may be one of the toughest scenarios yet. Vaccinated and boostered people are getting the virus, but they're not dying. So, no big deal, right?
The impact on our businesses and supply chains will be substantial as scores of us get sick all at the same time, hopefully for only a few days. And the Delta variant is still having a field day in the United States, leaving deadly consequences for those not vaccinated.
Here's what I'm thinking and asking my clients to think about:
I trust the experts that the spike will begin in the first two weeks of January.
Consider what happens if YOU get sick. Even if you are vaccinated and boostered, you may need to go home for a few days, possibly longer. The people around you on the day of your infection will likely get sick, too. I’m thinking about this, as well—especially if my husband gets sick.
If you're the boss, talk with your second in command at work—talk through what’s most important to focus on if you get infected. Give him/her the information they need to step in seamlessly.
Talk with your spouse or significant others, family members about what they should do if you end up in the hospital.
Stash frozen dinners in the freezer so you don’t have to depend on anyone to go to the grocery store for you.
Stock up on cold and fever remedies now if you are running low.
Get any prescriptions for January filled this week, just in case.
Staffing issues will cause even more dramatic disruptions…..the big issues for our restaurants and hotels will still be staffing—with restaurants and visitor centers, I expect closures.
Think through how to keep an entire restaurant staff from getting sick at once. Consider keeping your number one lead and number two lead on separate schedules so if one gets sick, the other might not. It might help to stagger work schedules by teams so you can isolate when people get sick. (I know you're rolling your eyes--just trying to keep the doors open right now is challenging, )
For some businesses, changing your hours or closing for periods is a solution. If you need to close or adjust hours, don't forget to update your Google Business Profile (this is what Siri and Google Search uses to answer questions about your business or answer the "restaurants near me" question). Remember to change info on review sites such as TripAdvisor and Yelp. Make an announcement on your social media in a post, and also in the ABOUT section or bio. Update your website, too.
If you operate a VRBO or AirBnB, think through how to cover cleaning services and answer guest questions about cleaning standards up front. Be honest if you were in the rental and didn't know you were infected.
With hotels, consider how to keep front desk staff working in distinct shifts with no crossover. I know housekeeping staffing has been unsolvable for a while. I've got nothing for you there except encouraging them to stay as healthy as possible while meeting family and friends.
Talk to your team NOW about how to stay healthy over the holidays ((masking, distancing and limiting indoor experiences with groups as much as possible—airplanes are actually okay, surprisingly—it’s the airport you have to worry about)) and think about buying more effective masks or asking the team to double mask.
Our thin, cloth masks (and even surgical ones) don't really protect against Omicron: https://globalnews.ca/news/8460528/masks-effectiveness-omicron/
Find snug masks, ones with a nose wire, more than one layer of protection….KN95s are widely available now, unlike early in the pandemic. You may want to order ASAP. https://www.health.com/condition/infectious-diseases/coronavirus/do-masks-protect-against-omicron-variant
Open the windows at your family gathering to allow for ventilation.
Encourage people to get vaccinated if they aren't.
Operations: Make sure you have passwords to all social platforms, software and online tools that make your business run in your wallet; share with at least one other person on your team. If your social/web/management platform teams get sick, who can step in for a few days?
Get cell phone numbers of your management team (and their spouses? significant others?) and ground team updated in your phone
If key team members of management/leadership teams are traveling, jot down the arrival and departure dates and put them in your phone or wallet, just in case.
Finally, don’t give up and don’t despair. We are a little wiser now than we were in March, 2020. Stay humble and open. Lean into your own creativity and ask your team members for their ideas NOW. You don't have to manage this alone, and you're familiar with these steps now. Your team is, too. We are in positions to show great leadership and compassion and do the right things. Go get 'em! And oh yeah, happy holidays.
--By Susan Dosier, President, DK Communications. Group
Learn how to manage your Google for Business profile in this video training Susan provided for a client.
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Find other stories Susan wrote about coronavirus virus. She was a working journalist for 18 years before coming to media relations and marketing.
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