Nicola Hochgruber from the UAE's National Corporation for Tourism & Hotels on working through coronvirus

Published: 29 May 2020 - 2:45 a.m.
By: Claudia De Brito
How has your role changed in recent weeks?
Given the ongoing condition concerning the COVID-19 and its impact on the business, everyone’s role in the organisation has become significant in facing this challenging period. Since the changes apply swift and fast on short notice, being vigilant in monitoring the situation has been part of my daily top priority. It requires a faster decision making to come up with a timely strategic plan in optimising our resources and its effective implementation. Usually, forecasting makes sense, but in the current situation, it is rather like looking in the great crystal ball and trying to do the right thing at the right time together with my teams. Also, I personally committed myself to keep constant updates and communication with the team, to our valued guests and shareholders to keep them informed of the preventative measures we have in place to reassure that their safety and wellbeing remain our first priority. I’m encouraging each team member to stay positive and motivated at all times.

Are you learning any new skills?
The learning process is never-ending, and that’s what makes it very interesting right now. As the COVID-19 ongoing uncertain situation unfolds, it brings new learning itself. Making use of the various online tools for communication while working at home is a good example of technical skills my team and I learnt. These tools assist us to stay connected for managing meetings, online training, and even personal interaction with the family and friends. I’m taking advantage of the free hours and give it to the team by communicating more either by phone or virtually to keep them motivated and positive in handling the situation. I feel that the current scenario allows me to strengthen my relational or behavioural skills. Also, using and considering several resources/ industries, which hotels wouldn’t have considered prior COVID-19, such as the health sector. I personally learnt practical lessons from reputable medical sources on how to protect myself and stay safe.

What are you doing to stay safe and keep guests safe?
My team and I are committed to ensuring the health and safety of our guests and team members at all times. We are closely monitoring and following the recommendations and guidelines of the local governments and health authorities to continue providing the best service possible. We constantly update our guests and team with our #WeCare campaign to keep them informed of the necessary preventative measures and procedures. Also, our hotels implement proper cleaning, sanitising, and disinfecting, set regular fumigation, team member training to adapt the best hygiene practices, and installed thermal scanner and sanitisers in all areas. Most of our team obtained a certificate on “Let's Break the Chain of COVID-19 Infection” course by Mohammed Bin Rashid University.

How do you stay motivated?
The current situation brings everyone together to fight and continue moving forward. Keeping the goals in front of the line helps me to stay motivated and positive. I’m taking advantage of the free time I have to plan and look forward to the future and acquire new skills. We shift our focus on planning the different creative ways as preparation once the business is back. Most of all, my team gives me strength, hope and support!

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