We can do more, We can do better.

For those of us who love travel, dining and entertainment experiences, 2020 will be remembered as the time when life stood still. COVID-19 has dramatically impacted the ability of Americans to enjoy life and escape and explore effortlessly. The hospitality industry needs to rebuild confidence in our consumers, but it has become clear with recent surges in cases, that without immediate and major changes in how we behave in public and operate our businesses – we are at risk of returning to a place none of us want to go – overwhelmed medical facilities, unnecessary casualties and the potential loss of our economy.

Recovery is not equivalent to bandaging a skinned knee. Short-term mandates will merely bear short-term results. Wearing masks is a good start, but is just the tip of the iceberg for prevention. For instance, wearing masks improperly could cause someone to unknowingly spread the virus. We must examine every consumer touch point and interaction in our businesses and develop procedures and protocols to mitigate the spread.

One thing I know for sure is that we are all in this together, and the entire business community is only as strong as our weakest link. We have surveyed many other businesses in our communities, and while there are companies doing the right things, so many more need help, as they may lack the resources or capacity to develop a strategy to provide a safe experience. So, I am writing to ask our industry to band together and help become resources for each other, as we are much stronger together. We can do more, and we should do more.

Our company, Westgate Resorts, operates over 150 businesses spanning 32 different governmental jurisdictions across the United States. From the very beginning of the pandemic, we organized a dedicated team of professionals to rapidly develop and implement comprehensive procedures to protect our guests and Team Members, including advanced cleaning procedures, strict personal hygiene protocols and a long list of operating procedures, exceeding the mandates issued by each state and local government where our businesses operate.

We recognize that many community businesses may not have Westgate’s extensive resources so we are starting a series of Hospitality Town Halls, where we will share our best practices examining every consumer touch point and interaction. We will share our own learnings, and will invite other industry leaders to do the same; every session will end with an open Q&A. It is our hope that sharing this critical information will help everyone operate their businesses more safely, allow our guests and customers to feel confident in their visits and help slow the spread of this terrible epidemic.

We are passionate about helping you safely get guests back, drive revenue to your business and move back toward profitability during these challenging times.

Mark Waltrip
Chief Operating Officer
Westgate Resorts


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