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No better time to transform an industry

This is hard for me. Sitting in front of a blank page is somewhat of an uncomfortable feeling.

What is compelling me to write this? The gravity of the current situation, for one.

But also, looking through my LinkedIn and seeing friends “seeking new opportunities” or their photos branded, with the now all too familiar, #opentowork.

Covid-19 has decimated the hospitality, restaurant and food industry at large. It has impacted many of my friends’ lives. Lately I’ve really yo-yoed between optimism and pessimism.

In the past couple of weeks though, something occurred to me that sparked enthusiasm and got me excited about the future.

What if this horrible predicament could be the start of a new era for our industry?

As I write, thousands of people have lost their jobs. Despair, self-doubt and a feeling of isolation have set in. Uncertainty is a dark cloud hovering above us all. We can’t seem to see the light at the end of the tunnel.

Despite some establishments reopening in the last couple of weeks, it hardly triggers excitement as we hear new Covid cases popping up in areas we thought to be “safe”.

We ask ourselves: what is to come? When will we be able to return to work? When are we going back to normal?

We’re not! Normal is gone. The relevant question is, what’s next?

With the amount of unemployed skilled people in this world, we have more than enough talent to force a transformation in an industry that has failed us. An industry whose business model has shown its limits and has left us unemployed at best and, in some parts of the world, has left us hungry.

Witnessing a cohort of industry experts from around the world, uniting organically around a common vision, has given me the positive boost I needed from the beginning of this crisis.

Clear out your self-doubt and this sense of uncertainty, let’s take the bull by the horn.

The industry is ripe for a full on transformation towards a purposeful, resilient and compassionate model. We all have the power to affect change and contribute to this transformation in our own ways.

Imagine, if our industry was led by genuinely purpose-driven companies that measure success based on positive impact vs. solely profits.

Imagine, if companies would have sustainability and resilience as a core value and not just a CSR or marketing exercise.

Imagine, if our industry was a driving force of the efforts against climate change with meaningful and effective tactics

Imagine, if the industry would take a clear and genuine stance against systemic social injustice and inequalities.

This isn’t just possible, it is an imperative.

I feel that we have a moral duty to reinvent the industry and it starts now. I don’t believe we must be perfect from the get go, but initiating the rise of this movement is essential.

Despite all of its flaws, I fell in love with the hospitality and food industry at the age of 9. And now I am scared of seeing it crumble and die, or worse, seeing it trying to resume with a “business as usual” mindset, which will only fail with the next crisis and will continue to affect the lives of thousands.

As hotelier, restaurateurs or food professionals we have the tendency to try to reach perfection before sharing anything with the world. But the urgency of the situation will not allow it.

The truth is that we will never be perfect, but we have a responsibility to work towards bettering ourselves and the world around us one day at a time.

The best we can do, here and now, is work purposefully towards a common objective. This common objective, dare I say mission, is to build an industry that is resilient and has a long-term positive impact on our planet and all of its inhabitants.

We all are agents of change! It is now time to reset and be part of the solution!

Jerome P.

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Transforming hospitality by converting it into a clean and compassionate industry by 2050

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