Last year at this time, we were celebrating one of the most successful years in our industry and our anticipation for the year ahead was enthusiastic. Holiday parties, team member celebrations, client success events, these were just some of the annual rituals we took for granted. As 2019 rolled into 2020, the year was shaping up nicely and then we all know how drastically our expectations shifted by the end of March. Suddenly our plans were thrown out the window, budgets went up in flames, and one of the most painful aspects was furloughing or laying off team members we’ve worked with, trained, and enjoyed each other’s company for many years.

As we’ve traversed through 2020 with lots of bumps, bruises, and even a few black eyes, it’s challenging to think about how to celebrate the past year and the efforts of the team members we’ve been able to keep on. Balancing the difficult financial realities with the health directives not to congregate, to wear a mask, and to socially distance that are anathema to our service-oriented culture have made this year one we will never forget. But here we are, it’s the end of the year many of us thought would never come to a close and despite it all, we have much to be grateful for and to celebrate.

First off, so many people have suffered the health effects of the global pandemic and for those of us who have been fortunate not to do so, let’s celebrate our wellbeing. While we still have a long way to go before we see the end of this pandemic – the recent vaccine news is certainly encouraging – the beginning of the end appears to be in sight. We can look forward to more uplifting medical developments in the beginning of next year with the goal that the pandemic will be over by the middle to end of 2021 if not sooner.

Secondly, let’s be thankful for the team members we have been able to keep employed throughout this crisis. Despite the painful furloughs and cuts we were forced to make, each of our properties was able to retain a number of team members who have gone above and beyond to demonstrate their work ethic. Long hours, new protocols, and constantly changing health directives did not dissuade our team members from making their smiles shine even from behind a mask. People are at the heart of our business and without our team members we could not have made it this far. And for those team members we had to furlough or let go, be sure to check in on them. While we may not be able to help them financially, staying in touch keeps up the human connection that is at the heart of hospitality.

Thirdly, while the financial struggles continue, our resilience and ability to carry on is commendable. There is still a long way to go but many of us weren’t sure how we would get through Q2 let alone to the end of the year. Creativity and working in partnership with ownership, management, the brands, lenders, and vendors is something to celebrate as we all have the same end goal in mind, the success of our hotels.

While we have so many other things to celebrate, the hardest part is not being able to congregate and recognize our team members for their hard achievements. Team recognition events including an annual holiday party are not only uplifting experiences, they also serve as a time to thank our team for their dedication throughout the year. This year you may want to consider personal thank you notes, gift cards, or some other meaningful token of appreciation. Even though budgets are extremely tight, investing in our team members will leave a lasting impact that will benefit our properties next year and beyond.

As we turn the leaf on this year and look forward to a successful and healthy 2021, remember that if you can get through 2020, there’s no challenge you can’t overcome.