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The inside view of a year with Covid-19

2020 was in every way a unique year for the employees at Pandox. Read here how some of Pandox's different business areas handled the new situation.

Focus on the right things

Jonas Törner, SVP Business Intelligence

Jonas Törner, SVP Business Intelligence

What have been your focus areas during the year?
They have shifted, to say the least. From daily analytics and transactions in January and February, once March came we were quickly trying to forecast the immediate effects of the pandemic and government restrictions in all of Pandox’s markets and subsegments – up until the point when we realised there was no demand left at all in the short term. In that situation it became more important to focus instead on conceivable recovery scenarios and the effects of substantially reduced profitability in the industry, taking into account different countries’ relief packages and how these affect Pandox and our partners. When demand returned in the summer in line with our expectations, we intensified our analytics to get a better understanding of the hotel market’s various subsegments during a recovery phase – partly drawing on experience from entirely different hotel markets such as China, and partly by gathering and analysing completely new data points.

What are the greatest insights?
The main thing we are taking away from this is how quickly
markets and conditions can change – the fact that a pandemic and the subsequent government restrictions can paralyse the whole of society like this was probably not a risk that many companies had taken into account. Another lesson associated with this is how important it is to have a flexible organisation with short decision paths – one that can quickly refocus when required.

What are your tips for keeping up team spirit in times of corona?
Keep calm: be methodical, focus on the right things, make sure your colleagues have good conditions for working from home and look at each individual’s situation. Find small victories along the way. We never thought we would be pleased to have 40 percent occupancy...

Adopt, Adapt, Improve

Aldert Schaaphok, SVP Director International Operations

Aldert Schaaphok, SVP Director International Operations

What have been your focus areas during the year?
Initially it was damage control, and then we focused on adapting service and cleaning routines in the hotels – driven by requirements of social distancing and hygiene protocols. In some hotels renovation work was temporarily limited or stopped because of travel restrictions. We adapted the layout inside the hotels and restaurants, while also having to find secure solutions that worked for both guests and employees. We chose the certification company Bureau Veritas to certify all our hotels based on their Covid-19 standards, which required training programmes and testing of different solutions. We also arranged for most hotels to be able to offer guests and employees rapid tests for Covid-19 that provided results within 10 minutes.

What are the greatest insights?
People are social beings; we need to interact with each other, to read body language and facial expressions. Another insight was the importance of supporting the local economy and of making sure that our consumption behaviour is sustainable.

What are your tips for keeping up team spirit in times of corona?
We increased our motivational and communications efforts, because people are more isolated in their home environments. This meant increased digital communication, giving more attention to individuals who needed it, and a greater focus on giving compliments and showing appreciation. Above all, I did my best to ensure that employees and managers were able to keep things in proportion and not let this crisis affect them personally too much.

Think ahead

Anders Berg, SVP Head of Communications & IR

Anders Berg, SVP Head of Communications & IR

What have been your focus areas during the year?
Our first step was to create a suitable strategic and communications framework, so that we could take a structured approach to this crisis. We called it Respond, Restart, Reinvent. We’re an active company with lots of contact with investors even in a normal year, but it’s probably not an exaggeration to call 2020 extreme. The Pandox share price fell from an all-time high to an all-time low in the space of 19 days in February/March and this movement generated massive interest from both institutions and private investors, so there were lots of meetings and other points of contact. In times of uncertainty internal communication also becomes vitally important, of course, so we had many video conferences that brought together everyone in the company.

What are the greatest insights?
Mainly the value of a clear game plan, good underlying data and strong analytics capacity so that we can navigate purposefully in the right direction and make well-founded decisions. There is also great value to be had if you can manage to work on different things in parallel, dare to raise your sights and be constructive even in the darkest hour. And of course you learn a great deal from being involved in a crisis of such magnitude – even if naturally I wish it had never happened. Last but not least, an important insight is that physical meetings work best when it really matters.

What are your tips for keeping up team spirit in times of corona?
Maintain some daily routines and plan in fun breathing space to break up the monotony. We managed to hold both a summer party and a kick-off event, which I think helped keep many people’s spirits up. Another useful tip, of course, is to be open and available to talk about anything whatsoever. Not all internal communication has to be about business matters. In times of great uncertainty even small things can quickly get out of proportion.

Dare to plan for a brighter future

Lars Häggström, EVP Asset Management & Development

Lars Häggström, EVP Asset Management & Development

What have been your focus areas during the year?
We have mainly focused on analysing and understanding what consequences the pandemic will have for Pandox and for the industry. Covid-19 meant big changes to most of our projects, whether these were planned or in progress. A lot of effort has been put into adapting schedules and renegotiating agreements already entered into. Despite great practical and contractual challenges, in 2020 we invested the equivalent of around MSEK 900 in investments to drive growth.

In what ways did you have to change how you worked?
We’ve been able to devote more time to structuring work processes, to documentation and to studying more detailed matters. We’ve also spent a lot of time on analysing concepts for the future – in other words, how the hotels are to be developed to meet the needs guests will have in both the short and the long term. That knowledge will be an important part of our strategy for future growth.

What are the greatest insights?
Take nothing for granted. The hotel industry has had many good years with some crises along the way, but nothing to compare with the coronavirus crisis. I also think that environmental awareness will increase and with it the insight that our current way of living cannot work long-term. Another important insight is how important it is for organisations to adapt both themselves and their decisions to the situation that exists.

What are your tips for keeping up team spirit in times of corona?
Simple things, but often underestimated: be positive, look to the future and focus on solutions. Laugh and enjoy yourselves, even when the crisis is stalking the room. Dare to plan for the future and have faith in your established ways of working, methods and processes.