By Anthony Anton

President and CEO

When the hospitality industry gets through this crisis – and it will – the long-term future remains bright.

A surprising lesson of the coronavirus epidemic is the reminder of how much relationships and communities matter. The reminder that our industry connects communities like no other. We are at the center of community development. We support social issues at the local level. Working together, we help our communities succeed.

The same holds true for our community of vendors.

To me, partners matter more than price. I look for vendors and partners who are constantly approaching me with new ideas, new relationships and new ways to help.

Partnerships matter. People matter. People take care of you.

This fact has been highlighted in the crisis – the things that some businesses valued and other businesses did not stuck out more than ever. Partnerships with our vendors where friendships and trust had been built paid off when times got tough.

The vendor partnerships built on price did not pay off. I heard multiple stories of vendors who took product back and I heard multiple stories of vendors who gave their customer the finger and said, “Good luck – I’ll sell to the next guy.”

Some banks prioritized long-term customers when it came to small business loan applications. Applicants who were new to some banks didn’t get prioritized and didn’t get loans. Some lawyers provided long-time customers with discounted or pro-bono advice. Some members said they couldn’t afford to talk to their lawyer as all hell was breaking loose because of what their lawyer was charging them.

We also saw it with landlords — the local property owners who said, “Don’t worry about it – pay when you can.” And we saw the national corporation that not only required the rental fee but demanded a penalty as well.

Do you still think relationships don’t matter? Do you recognize that we’re in this together?

Even if a handshake can’t occur today, it should still matter.

Today you’re probably reviewing your vendors. Some of your vendors didn’t survive the crisis, so which new ones should you consider?

You may be scrambling for product and looking at new vendors and price points.

When you look at the extensive list of vendors within the pages of this issue, learn about their reputations and the people on their teams.

As you use this chance to re-establish your buying chains and decide what your reinvented service lines will be – are you doing business with someone you trust? With someone who is going to come to you with new technologies or products that are better than what you had? With someone who will be reasonable if you are struggling when times get hard? Because times just got hard.

Use this information to make your choices.

I’ll always believe relationships matter. That’s why I’m so attracted to hospitality. I’ll always believe we’re in this together, which is why I’m also attracted to community.

The association is doing all it can to make sure your business is supported in the hospitality community, including:

· Being your primary source of industry-related news and resources

· Providing a return on your investment into the association

· Protecting and enhancing the industry by advocating to public officials to craft solutions for economic relief

We are working tirelessly to help you demonstrate to your team and to your guests the value of hospitality and what it means to your community.

Never forget our industry is a driver of economic vitality and productivity, but also of adaptability, innovation, ingenuity and reinvention. Thank you for allowing us to accompany you on your journey forward