Reflecting On The Past Few Months
We’ll not be alone in our assessment that 2020 has been the most challenging and testing time in our companies lifetime. The obstacles the CV-19 crisis has thrown up in the travel industry have gone far beyond what any crystal-baller would have predicted possible even six months ago.
That said, in the greater scheme of things, it has been a footnote in the real tragedy of this period & I’ve little doubt that in the not too distant future, our industry along with many others will be back and 2020 a distant memory. In this hiatus period between one peak & a possible second, reflecting and planning makes up a major part of our current working week. We have been fortunate to welcome our phenomenal team back into HQ in recent weeks, which has brought a resemblance of normality to the working week.
When the office was empty & the business working remotely, we had a full refit. I have never been prouder of our small team here at SHS than I was during the immediate upheaval of the crisis back in March. All have remained committed under difficult circumstance ever since, which is testament to their tenacity, skill and pride in their work. When the team returned, I wanted them to come back to an office which befitted their high-level commitment to their roles & responsibilities.
In reflection, I look back at some key events which did so much to safeguard our clients, our suppliers, our team and the business. As the crisis spread into Italy in February, the initial upheaval with tours booked in Half-Term gave me the firm indication that this wouldn’t be limited to our tourists in Veneto, Parma & Rome. At that point, we took the decision to recommend all clients consider deferring their departures into the autumn and 2021. As Spain, then Belgium & eventually the UK followed Italy’s lead & amidst the uncertainty of government advice and subsequent restriction, we saved the overwhelming majority of our clients tours, their monies & safeguarded our own future. There were times early on where I sincerely feared for the worst.
I cannot express the gratitude to those teams who have stuck with us in this period. It has been clear in hindsight that we could do so much more for those who wished to work with us to a solution. The continued persistence of the virus & the uncertainty of both travel and return to play protocols mean we have challenges in the immediate future, but I am confident we will work to fair and just solutions for every one of our clients.
We chose not to utilise the Government Furlough scheme to its extent in this period. Other than our operations manager Mackenzie who took a month on the scheme in June, the rest of the team have worked tirelessly throughout. I took the decision to do this so we’d be 100% ready for when the market opens up again. We’ve added some exciting new products, revamped our marketing strategy, amended our Safety Management procedures in light of CV19, invested in staff training & initiated a brand overhaul. If we’d been sat at home waiting for all this to blow over, we’d suffer a second slump by not being ready for the enquiries we have taken in recent weeks. We’ve added some exceptional Long Haul Tours, re-launched our ‘Angels of the North’ Girls Rugby Festival, put together a range of Training Camp tours which goes so far beyond what is currently available on the market & have plans to diversify into Cricket Tours for 2021.
As a company, we do follow many values we’ve all individually learnt from our Rugby playing careers. In the current climate, I can draw another parallel to our current mindset. The atmosphere here is one of a pre-Cup Final changing-room huddle, waiting for the referee to knock on the door. We can’t wait to get going, we’re ready to start looking forward again.