Everyday heroes. Do a search of these two words, and you’ll find all kinds of stories. Inspiring. Heartwarming. Encouraging. CBS, CNN, Fox News, Huffington Post—they’ve all devoted stories to this topic. There’s a song, book, quotes. Even a website called just that—everydayhero.com—with countless stories of people helping people.
That everyday hero is within us all, expressed by simple, ordinary actions of kindness, courage and love. Sometimes, it’s in a grand gesture, but sometimes, it’s just a simple hello or act guided by empathy.
But why all this talk of heroism?
There’s a quote attributed to the late actor Christopher Reeve that says, “A hero is an ordinary individual who finds the strength to persevere and endure in spite of overwhelming obstacles.” And it’s that quote that comes to mind when I read of all of the stories of good will, compassion and support that the hospitality industry has shown—not just to each other, but to the bigger picture, so to speak, during this pandemic. Even though this industry has been so greatly affected by the impact of COVID-19—as you all keenly know—the spirit of giving, of helping, has been extraordinary. At Hotel Business, we have tried to balance reporting on the harsher realities of the situation with the stories of concern, sacrifice and hope. From discounted and donated rooms for frontline healthcare workers, to campaigns and programs designed to generate immediate revenue for hotels, to relief funds and foodservice, the helping hands of hospitality are performing heroic deeds.
That’s why, when I received a long letter from hotelier and reader Sunny Tolani, CEO, Prince Organization, sharing with me the letter he wrote to his organization’s team members, I knew I wanted to share it with you. You can read it on page 32. He was kind enough to let me reprint it. As the leader of his ownership company, he encourages his staffs at all of his hotels to continue to do what they do best during this health crisis: be there for the guest—in this case, many healthcare employees—and offer them a home away from home, even with limited services. It all goes back to that idea that an everyday hero—which he calls them in his letter—is that person who just offers you a smile when you need some sunshine.
It’s very easy to focus on the doom and gloom right now. But if you can just focus on the basic definition of hospitality which is, depending on the source, the generous and friendly treatment of visitors, or the relationship between a guest and a host, wherein the host receives the guest with goodwill, it’s a good starting point to finding—and embarking on—the road to recovery.
To the Editor:
As a longtime member of the hospitality industry and an occasional commentator on what we do, I implore you that, when you report on the various brands’ announcements of their new “cleanliness & sanitation” plans, you hold their feet to the proverbial fire on transparency of the process and the attendant costs related to them. I have been convinced that the announcements we have seen have been premature due to their lack of specificity and transparency—like the out-of-control real estate developer telling the neighbors how great the project is going to be without actually revealing what the project is. It will be a significant disservice to the industry and our guests for the brands to hide behind “proprietary brand standards” that impact the health and well-being of the guests, the employees and, ultimately, the owners and operators who will be mandated to comply.
Too many articles in both trade and general public publications have lauded the brands for their announcements—of blue-plate “cleanliness counsels,” relationships with experts in the field, and their expressed concern about guest and employee well-being—without delving into the specifics of the plans. I am all for gold-star cleaning and sanitation, which we as an industry need, but the proof is in the actual plan, not the announcement of it.
—Michael C. Shindler
President, Four Corners Advisors Inc.