What are your biggest business concerns surrounding COVID-19?
One of my main concerns is the timeline for when there will be a vaccine and proper accessibility for everyone to be tested. Until we have that, both international and domestic travel will be limited.
What is your current business strategy for dealing with the situation?
It’s important to continue prioritizing frequent and consistent communication with my team and residents to ensure everyone can feel a sense of comfort, order and confidence in their surroundings. AKA prides itself on going above and beyond for our residents, and to continue to do that, we have enhanced direct leadership support to our front-line team members through daily communication and Zoom meetings. They are the ones who regularly engage and care for the residents.
The situation continues to change; however, I’ve remained positive, communicative and focused on our long–stay model, which has helped us maintain stability and occupancy at our nine properties that remain open.
At AKA, we have always stated that the angels are in the details and applied that to design, presentation, and above all, cleanliness. We’ve seen these high standards leave lasting impressions on our residents and be a main reason for return stays.
How do you think things will look in your industry a year from now?
In a year from now, people will be hyper-focused on the cleanliness and safety of their surroundings and these facets may take the lead when planning a trip or experience. To prepare for that, brands should focus on their current cleaning procedures and implement new methods for deeper cleaning.
At AKA, we have always stated that the angels are in the details and applied that to design, presentation and above all, cleanliness. We’ve seen these high standards leave lasting impressions on our residents (guests) and be a main reason for return stays.
We are now planning for the future by creating and executing even more rigorous sanitization protocols and policies. We understand that we now need to show and demonstrate it to prospective residents who may not have experienced it yet as a firsthand resident. Our Resident Services Team, who cares and creates the experience for our residents will be trained and armed to detail our cleanliness protocol in the same way they can for our amenities, policies and suite accommodations—it becomes another key pillar in our presentation.
What have you learned from other difficult times in the past?
Our country and company have faced many obstacles in the past, including the 2008 financial crisis. Each of those obstacles have had unique challenges that we have been able to overcome. COVID-19 is a crisis that we have never experienced before, and many valuable lessons will result from it. The biggest lesson we have learned thus far is that transparency and open communication are vital to weathering the storm.
Safe–and entertained–at Home: What business leaders are doing with their downtime
I am in constant communication with my team at large to thoroughly review each AKA property as all 10 remain open. I schedule regular Zoom calls with leadership and each location’s respective team—we have one property in London and two in LA, so I am cognizant of their schedules and the time difference. We are taking this time to plan for the future of the AKA brand.
Well! Like most, I watched Tiger King with my wife. I also watched Ozark with my sons, and The Servant with my daughter.
Two books I’m currently enjoying are Alchemy by Rory Sutherland, which is an old adage story about pursuing your passion, and The Passion Economy by Adam Davidson, which is a blend of passion along with hard work and commitment for today’s business leader to be successful. I also enjoy reading the Philadelphia Inquirer, The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Arch Daily and Dezeen, and Twitter articles I’ll see from friends re-sharing.
What are you doing to spend quality time with those you’re sheltering with?
One silver lining that comes from this pandemic is having everyone at home together. We eat lunch and dinner together and are watching tv series and playing a few games together.
What are you doing to stay healthy mentally and physically?
The time we are in is undeniably unprecedented, but I have been staying positive for the future. I’ve used this time to eat healthier and work out more regularly. Overall, it has been a beneficial March and April, and I’m hoping to make the transition back to work soon. This time at home has heightened my appreciations and has given me a fresh perspective and outlook on how AKA will fulfill its role in the new realities of what a “home away from home” will truly mean.
Where are you dreaming of visiting once things are back to normal?
One trip I’m really looking forward to is a family trip to Big Sur this autumn. It’s our annual retreat for hiking and unwinding! I also look forward to returning to each of the AKA properties and will focus my efforts and travel to NYC and LA for the remainder of the year.