On Travel and the Coronavirus
We have been getting a lot of calls lately related to travel and the coronavirus. Calls from travelers wanting to know their options, calls from travelers wanting to postpone their trip. Calls from family and friends tentatively asking if we’re doing alright.
Everyone knows that a world pandemic is going to paralyze the travel industry. There will be (have already been) airlines, hotels, tour companies that fold. Others that lay off workers. Others still that cut back and hunker down, hoping to survive to the other side.
But when asked, I have to answer, I’m doing ok. Everyone at TIK is doing ok. We’re following the recommendations of local authorities and working from home, and we are doing what we can to halt the spread of the disease by STAYING HOME. No play dates, even though I’ve got two kids off school indefinitely. No getting together with friends for drinks, even though some of my best friends live a couple blocks away and – let’s face it – we’ve all got reason to drink these days.
The International Kitchen is a small company, we think of it as a family. And our employees and international partners know we’re all in this together…
I’m certainly not trying to be a Pollyanna. People are sick, and hospital workers are risking their lives to take care of them. I know some of those doctors and nurses on the front lines.
And I know that every month the outbreak lasts the effects on our business (and on all businesses) are amplified. My business partner and I have looked at the numbers. We’ve fretted over keeping our employees on salary. We’ve wondered even after the outbreak has stalled whether people will feel like traveling again, or whether anyone’s portfolios will be robust enough to allow them the expense of a trip.
But again, we’re doing ok. Right now, thank God, no one is sick. Not in our families, not in our TIK family, not among our travel partners – even in Italy. That may soon change, but for today, we’ll be grateful.
Right now our partners are being super flexible in allowing our clients to postpone their trips, even though I know they must be losing sleep at night over trying to keep their doors open. So again, for today we’ll be grateful.
Right now our clients are being just as flexible as we try to work through these unprecedented times. They are not hysterical, they are not demanding, they are for the most part really kind, sending words of encouragement to us and expressions of gratitude over the flexility we’ve been able to show. So for that, for today, we’ll be grateful.
The International Kitchen is a small company, we think of it as a family. And our employees and international partners know we’re all in this together, that we’ll work together to weather this, and will fight our hardest to bring tourists back to Italy, all of Europe, the whole world, as soon as it’s safe.
I was on a run earlier today. The streets were deserted. I saw one man doing some yard work. This is Chicago, it’s not supposed to look like this. With each footstep as I ran my mind raced. Worry about the business, about whether my kids would get sick. I have a child with Type 1 diabetes – he can’t get sick. What if we run out of toilet paper? Seriously, I bought a big package of it a week ago thinking that’ll last us through a quarantine, but with five people at home it goes fast. What if food supply chains are affected? What if the post office closes down, and there are no deliveries – including of my son’s insulin? What if we have to eat up everything in our cupboards, and then worry about replenishing them?
The fact is, there have been generations of Americans for whom rationing, deprivation, and worry were constant companions. There are still are many people around the world who live that reality each day. We have been lucky never to have experienced this, and I feel that luck keenly these days.
I do not really believe that any of the dooms-day scenarios I imagined on my run will happen. I believe there will be food and medicine–and hopefully even toilet paper–for the duration of the outbreak in the US. I believe that the disease will run its course, that a vaccine will be developed, that at some point things will return to normal.
But until then, I still feel my luck keenly. So yes, for today at least, we’re doing ok. And we sincerely hope you are too.