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First thing we’d like to say is that we hope that you and all who you know are healthy. Second, stay that way. Please.

For the first time in fifteen years, I considered not writing this monthly update. Only four weeks ago, I had come home from what I know now to be the last business trip for an undefined time. The March newsletter was ready to go out the next morning and I sat down and rewrote the entire newsletter/blog as so much had changed in the few days since the first version was written. Having been in Vancouver in January, it was clear that the virus was an issue – in China – however, my brain was still in a state of denial as to how this insidious spread would affect us all. One night from Vancouver, I did call Rod, my husband and business partner and expressed my deep anxiety as I could feel my unconscious trying to give me a really big ‘heads up’. Flights in the US were being shut down from China at the end of January and still, my brain didn’t fully accept the reality until Friday, March 13th. The day I broke my arm.  

Wow, life changed for us all these last few weeks! On that fateful Friday, my world was in hyper overdrive as we frantically began to cancel and rebook what we now know to be – all the spring conferences for Q2. In the flurry of busy, worry and distraction – I tripped in my garage and fell on my elbow. In some odd poetic way, ‘the fall’ has come to metaphorically represent the current situation: initially shocking, followed by a healing process, bit of rehab and a new normal.   

All of us were thrust into a reality that our industry hasn’t seen since 2002 during the SARS pandemic. The difference from then to now is that there was a clear ‘travel advisory’ given by the World Health Organization and so it was clear that the Force Majeure would be invoked. For those who I have spoken with who lived it, navigating through the process to cancel/rebook programs then was difficult however much easier than now. Back then, I was only an observer as the conference I was working on (650 delegates/national conference) was not in Toronto, the epicentre of the Canadian 2002 health crisis.

Our industry has never been here before.  

The number I referenced last month of losses that the hospitality insurance industry was measuring then was $100 million. It is fair to say now four weeks later,  we simply can not calculate a number that represents the lives and livelihoods this pandemic will cost us personally and our global neighbours. 

With a few weeks of hindsight, however still being very much ‘in the middle’ of things, it has become clear that our industry was first to be ‘hit’. We bring people together.  What does that mean for our future, is certainly the question we are all contemplating during this time of quarantine. 

The glimmer of light that gives me real ‘substantial’ hope is the amazing medical research and global collaboration that is emerging to fight this evil force.    

A heartfelt thank you goes out to our industry partners who have reached out to simply say – hello. We truly are in this together – as a community.

Timely yours, 

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  • Nathalie

    Hi Brenda,
    Wonderfully written article.
    As you point out we are all affected by this in some way, shape or form.
    I look forward to the time when this will be behind us and we’ll all be sharing our stories face to face. I hope I’m not naive in thinking so!
    Very sorry to hear about your arm, I sure hope you are in the mend.
    Stay healthy and best to you and Rod.

  • Brenda Howes

    Nathalie – hope you are well in body, mind and soul. Your perspective now in your new role encompasses both the hotels’ perspective and trade show/exhibitor. With the emergence of technology we have certainly seen the benefits of the virtual world however in the last fifteen years…we have come to know that face-to-face does have a magical ingredient that virtual just can’t replicate. Our virtual Easter 🐣 dinners sure showed us that this past weekend!

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