What are your biggest business concerns surrounding COVID-19?
Our chief concern is the safety and overall wellness of our employees and guests, as well as for the small Taos community, which could be disproportionally affected by out-of-town visitors. For this reason, we made the decision to close Taos Ski Valley resort three weeks early. However, it was not a decision we made lightly, as we understand the impact that our resort closing will have on the many small businesses that operate in Taos Ski Valley.
What is your current business strategy for dealing with the situation?
This crisis is unprecedented, and while we were still open, we were meeting as a leadership team numerous times a day. Initially, our strategy was to give the public some warning that we’d be closing the season two weeks earlier than expected and enable visitors to cancel or reschedule their planned trips, our staff to wind down duties, and local small businesses to plan for the impact they would experience, too. However, as the crisis advanced, we determined that we needed to close down even more quickly. It didn’t leave our visitors or small business partners with as much of a warning as we wished we could have, but it became clear that we needed to act fast to mitigate potential spread of COVID-19.
Travel brands that are able to demonstrate how they’re caring for their communities, environment, and employees throughout an unprecedented crisis will earn long-lasting trust and will be the brands that consumers return to when they’re able.
How do you think things will look in your industry a year from now?
The travel industry will have a steep recovery period after the threat of COVID-19 has passed. However, I think Americans will be more in need of relaxation, the respite of the outdoors, and the replenishment that travel can provide than ever before.
Forward-thinking travel businesses can focus on doing right by their consumers, including operating through the crisis transparently and fairly. Even before COVID-19, corporate social responsibility was becoming more important to travelers. People want to vote with their wallets, and support businesses that are doing good in the world. Travel brands that are able to demonstrate how they’re caring for their communities, environment, and employees throughout an unprecedented crisis will earn long-lasting trust and will be the brands that consumers return to when they’re able.
What have you learned from other difficult times in the past?
The ski industry has truly never seen anything like this before, so there are no apples-to-apples comparisons that would be fair.
B Corps are committed to meeting the highest standards of verified social and environmental performance, sustainability, public transparency and accountability. We held our crisis decision-making up against these values, which helped us quickly divert from questions about our own profitability to instead considering the impact to our entire community: visitors, employees, and surrounding residents.
Safe–and entertained–at Home: What business leaders are doing with their downtime
There really is no downtime during a crisis period like this, but our leadership team recognizes the need for self-care so we can be as strong as possible during these turbulent times. For me, it means a slower morning with a focus on either yoga, a morning run, or a light workout. It also means making time to enjoy some of those small hobbies that have slipped away over the years. So now I am sitting at the piano for 10–15 minutes a day. And with our daughter now in residence and dining out no longer an option, our early evenings revolve around cooking together and putting the healthiest ingredients possible into a homecooked meal. Finally, because we are so fortunate to live in a gorgeous mountain setting, long walks are now the norm, where we can drink in as much nature as possible and notice those small special treats like the songbirds of early spring.