Continued from here.
"How can I help you, my friend?", asked Mario over the phone.
They exchanged a few pleasantries, and Paul quickly updated Mario on the situation at the Mangrove Inn.
"You said you have a contact at Toyota Motors who might need several rooms on an ongoing basis?", asked Paul.
"I do and I can look her up for you, sure." Mario replied.
"Great, if we can get even a few rooms booked that would buy us some time.", Paul remarked, a little relieved.
"Buy time for what?", Mario asked cheerfully.
"Figure out how we can keep the lights on, while not risking Covid infection and conducting a comprehensive training program. Which may.. include quizzes". Paul explained.
"Sounds rather complicated if you ask me." Marion interjected.
He continued, "You're trying to do too many things. Keep it simple, my friend. What's the single most important thing to you right now? What's the one priority above all else?"
Paul paused for a while.
"I know what we need to do. Thanks Mario".
Paul met with Melchor.
Having spent close to 4 decades in the hospitality business, Melchor had a way of detecting whether something is really important, or just fleeting busyness. But he's too much of a quiet gentleman to presume giving advice unless asked for help.
"Mel, do you remember that Rocky quote? ...It ain't about how hard you hit. It's about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward", began Paul.
"I like that.", Melchor said.
"What if we all just take a long vacation?", Paul half-smiled.
"Hmm... I actually like that too. But how is that related to the Rocky quote? That's like the opposite of keep moving forward."
"Well.. whatever, it just sounded nice to start with", Paul replied. "The most important point is to keep everybody safe."
"That I agree." Melchor said slowly. "And at my young age, I do look forward to less stress."
"Okay." Paul said in a serious but somewhat relieved tone. "We'll give everyone some parting cash and help them apply for another job. Also for government benefits. Then we'll close the hotel officially. Give ourselves a clean slate to restart once conditions improve. Then we'll make sure we have better procedures, checks and balances, training programs, and..."
Paul paused for dramatic effect.
"A clearer long-term vision.", concluded Paul.
He, Melchor and the other team leaders have seen several employees start at the Mangrove Inn without the first clue on how to greet guests or turn-over beds. Not long after, some have moved on to larger hotels, cruises, and resorts.
Paul felt happy about this. The thought that their small hotel has helped these talented, caring individuals get started in their hospitality career.
"Stepping stones. That's what we are about". Paul continued. "When we re-open, we'll make this as our core purpose. To provide opportunities for people who are just starting, some with little to no education. We'll engage with educational institutions to create an enduring training program."
Melchor added, "When I was starting, my supervisor once told me: You cannot teach a person how to smile. All these years, I have mentored hundreds of people and this principle never failed me."
He continued, "A good training program starts with a good selection process. Not everyone is cut out to be in the hotel business. You must really enjoy caring for others, or you won't be happy. And the guests will know."
"But if someone has a great attitude and a genuine desire to serve others, she will go far, regardless of what obstacles are thrown her way.", Melchor concluded.
"And that shall be our first step towards re-opening." Paul said. "Understand very clearly, what are the characteristics of the best hospitality personnel? And how do we create the systems to move everyone towards that direction every single day? The good news is, for the first time since we opened, we have time."
The very next day, Paul got a call from Shiela, an old friend. Or more like an old acquaintance. Paul is hesitant to call her a friend, as she's always so dizzyingly busy she can only ever respond when she needs something. However, she has very good instincts for opportunities, and is not selfish with it, generous actually. She's a jack of all trades, doing mostly brokering of real estate, business deals, stocks, and various other rackets.
"Hey Paul! So good to hear your voice! I was just thinking about you the other day. How are you?!" greeted Shiela hastily.
"Not too bad, all things considered. We were just planning on..."
"Hey I have a group of extremely wealthy buyers who want to snap up properties struggling with the pandemic." Shiela interjected. "At bargain prices, of course. Do you know of any potential deals we can make? All cash. I will share the commission with you. It's quite generous.".
"I suppose that's a good sign that some buying activity is still going...", said Paul.
"Yes. Oh and by the way, is your hotel for sale?"