Creativity in a crisis

From tourist optimism to a disaster scenario
Who had foreseen this, this terrible scenario of a virus that is roaring the whole world. The developments of the past few days are fast: where flights to America were cancelled last Tuesday, all museums and theatres closed their doors on Friday and all leisure activities in The Netherlands were closed from Monday.

A bizarre development, since we looked optimistically at tourist growth a month or two ago and even strategies were developed to ensure that places do not get too busy ... now everyone is surviving and limiting the enormous (financial) damage it is suffered by companies and institutions.

Creativity emerges
It is admirable to see that these insecure, difficult and drastic times are also an engine for creativity. The Netherlands is known for its commercial spirit and innovativeness, and it shows again. Entrepreneurs in the leisure sector come up with initiatives to ensure that they can somehow generate income, serve customers, or at least keep in touch with visitors and relations.

Some inspiring examples we have already encountered:

  • Many restaurants and shops have started home delivery, either through their own channels or through online platforms. Even starred restaurants are now entering the world of home delivery.
  • In the museum world, but also at other knowledge institutions, online seminars, (virtual) tours, lessons or workshops are now being published. Until now mostly free, but sometimes or perhaps in the near future against a voluntary donation or small payment. For example, the Kunstmuseum The Hague already offers guided tours via Pinterest, as does Cincinatti Zoo and the Rijksmuseum works with Podcasts to keep the audience fascinated.
  • In hotels, private dining is offered in hotel rooms and some also offer home delivery or open a drive-through, such as Van der Valk.
  • Connection with consumers via Social Media.
  • Offering gift certificates or voucher for future use (and already generating income).
  • Hotels also offer individual workplaces for quiet work, such as the Westcord hotel in Delft.
  • Gyms offer online training to compensate for inability to exercise on location. This is partly done by making videos available, but also live streaming. Also new outdoor training (they have already been observed on roofs in Amsterdam).
  • Cinemas regularly offer customers (such as Pathé unlimited customers) a voucher in exchange for their subscription and now emphasize the possibility of watching via On-demand TV (Pathé at home).
  • Some parties are now working on creating a webshop with merchandise.

What can be done
Many companies and institutions have employees who would normally engage in activities that take place during or relate to opening up. All of these staff are currently out of work or with significantly less work to do. In addition to the financial opportunities offered by the government, good alternatives are also found here. There is a wide range of activities that can continue despite the crisis:

  • Working out scenarios for next year's finances. What does this crisis do with our liquidity and solvency and what do we need now to get through this temporality?
  • Preparations for opening up, elaboration of different phases.
  • Preparations for marketing & communication during the crisis and in the (near) future.
  • Education and training of personnel.
  • Hotels may still receive guests, but the catering is only allowed through room service.
  • There are examples of companies that are now picking up scheduled maintenance, such as painting, cleaning, repairs.
  • This is a good time to sort out the administration.
  • Digitizing the product.

Minimize costs and keep personnel on board
Despite this creativity, it is most important for most companies and institutions that costs are as low as possible at the moment and will even be minimized in the coming months. Every effort is made to keep personnel on board. Fortunately, the government has quickly taken measures for this. For example, work is being done on:

  • Postponement of payments for rent, lease, energy, insurance, etc.
  • Stopping activities that are not certain in the coming year (marketing, training, maintenance, etc.).
  • Make payment arrangements with outstanding debtors.
  • Banks suspend interest and repayments on outstanding loans.

Scenarios difficult to make
If something has become clear in the past week, it is hard to predict what will happen in the coming weeks or months. Things change day by day and for that reason it is very difficult to create different scenarios for the coming period.

Most companies and institutions are currently living day to day and are still little concerned with next week or the week after. We are in survival mode. But there is hope on the horizon. Government measures and creativity from the industry show that we are going to overcome this and perhaps come out stronger with lasting innovations and a valuable experience richer.

We wish all entrepreneurs and institutions the best of luck in the difficult time to come!

04.02.2020