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  • In the HIX seat: recovering from Covid ‘all together now!’

    Profile image of Joel Butler, Co-founder of HIX
    730 565 Hamish Kilburn
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    In the HIX seat: recovering from Covid ‘all together now!’

    Wearing his most comfortable slippers – working from home really does have its perks – our columnist Joel Butler, co-founder of HIX Event, explores the power of ‘all together now’. Can the events industry and the hotel design community work in tandem to recover and reopen following the Covid-19 outbreak? Let’s talk about it…

    Profile image of Joel Butler, Co-founder of HIX

    A quick scan of this morning’s headlines gives us the three Rs of this young and already-challenging decade; ‘Risk, Reopening(?) and the R Number’.

    As an event organiser it’s important to read beyond the headlines, to consume the full story and then ‘crack on’ with a stoic, pragmatic optimism. Because in all my years of making design events, this is the most starkly reflected and shared challenge that I’ve faced together with our community. Put simply, events and hotels are currently closed and recovery from Covid is needed.

    So once the risk factors are mitigated and the global creaky chorus of the opening of event and hotel doors sings out, it’s the next R that remains the goal; Recovery.

    Of course re-opening and recovery are not the same thing, the former can lead to the latter but true recovery will likely call for real change in the way we design our experiences. The fact that both the events and hospitality industry rely on people means that perhaps a good place to start is with our personal recoveries.

    It’s too early to understand how the pandemic has changed us, but a year of social distancing, lockdowns and wearing slippers for 95 per cent of our waking hours must surely change us, right? 

    Social commentators have spoken about a shift towards self-compassion as a resource for managing stress during and after the pandemic. Not the same thing as self-pity or self indulgence, Dr. Kristen Neff describes self compassion as “a connected way to relate to ourselves…a recognition that it can be hard for all of us.”  This is relatable to all of us right now and the challenge for hotels is to create spaces and experiences which allow for and encourage self compassion.

    Another element of our shared personal recovery relates to safety and comfort. As well as our health and wellbeing, we’ve worried about friends and family, about global political unrest, and about which tier we’ll find ourselves in when we get back from the shop. It’s not surprising that our homes have become bubbles of comfort and security. So how will hotels create an experience that feels like home, working with the paradox of making a truly ‘special and memorable’ stay whilst designing the cosiness the guest’s living room? 

    “The return to events and hotels represents the chance for joyous, communal celebration and togetherness. Imagine that; being all together now.” Joel Butler, Co-Founder, HIX Event.

    Thirdly, ‘All together now’. Since the first few weeks of Lockdown 1.0 we made this our theme for HIX. An event for the hospitality community is always going to be about warmth, celebration and togetherness and the long wait to get back to face to face will only accentuate this. However, a sense of absence, isolation and often loneliness have been experienced during the pandemic with friends, families, colleagues and communities being kept apart. The return to events and hotels represents the chance for joyous, communal celebration and togetherness. Imagine that; being all together now.

    By understanding our guest’s personal recovery we begin to understand and plan our industry’s recovery. Self-compassion, safety and comfort, and ‘all together now’ are just a few of the topics we’ll be exploring at HIX in November, applying these conversations to hotel development and design. By which time the headlines should be infinitely more positive, with the front pages being dominated by the new 3xR’s; ‘Recovery, RevPAR and Refurbs’.

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    Main image credit: HIX Event

    Hamish Kilburn / 26.01.2021

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