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What do you do when your business disappears overnight? That’s what happened to Hyatt CEO Mark Hoplamazian in April, when the pandemic cut the hotel company’s global business by 94%. “A shocking loss of demand,” he said. “We had never been in anything quite like it.”
Hoplamazian was my guest this week on the podcast Leadership Next (Apple/Spotify). I was eager to talk with him because he’s always struck me as a leader with a strong focus on Hyatt’s corporate purpose, which is rooted in empathy—caring for employees so in turn they care for hotel guests. How do you care for employees when you no longer have the means to do so?
“There is no question that this has been the most difficult and most challenging period of time I’ve ever experienced, as a person,” he said. “The business was unrecognizable. The steps we had to take to manage through it were very painful. There was a very human impact that was devastating.”
Yet Hoplamazian said he has “been so incredibly humbled by the outpouring of appreciation and care that I’ve felt from those who are being impacted…It was incredible testimony to the deep humanity that exists within this company.” He hopes increased empathy may be a broader legacy of the crisis. “Now when people ask ‘How are you doing,’ they really mean it. That sense of care and real focus and attention is extraordinarily powerful, and I hope that stays with us forever.”
Hoplamazian is confident that travel will eventually return to pre-pandemic levels… and beyond. “Long term, I am 100% sure that we are going to see a massive resurgence in travel, because there is this incredible impulse to want to connect and be with people, on a personal level and on a business level. Once we have a vaccine, I think we are going to see a resurgence of demand the likes of which we haven’t seen before.”
More news below.