edyn's Stephen McCall: We are fundamentally social animals

Eloise Hanson Eloise Hanson Uploaded




edyn CEO Stephen McCall talks to SAN about emerging from Covid-19 with new levels of unity and soul across the hospitality sector.

• What is the impact of the coronavirus on the edyn group and its Locke properties?
"Locke is on the brink of significant expansion across Europe, with new openings planned in Dublin, Munich, Berlin, Lisbon and Copenhagen over the coming months and years. Yet our growth ambitions feel distant to our primary concern for the health and safety of our guests, colleagues and families. We have temporarily closed Locke at Broken Wharf and a handful of properties across the edyn portfolio, though for many people we are their home. So, in-line with UK Government guidance, we can keep the vast majority of our Locke and SACO properties open throughout the UK, as a sanctuary for our long-stay residents. I'm proud to share this also means we’re able to support NHS and government efforts to house key workers, or those that need a place to stay if their permanent home isn’t available. We’re working closely with these organisations to provide long-stay solutions for key workers and displaced travellers, which is where we see most need for safe, secure accommodation at this moment."

• What would be your advice to property owners and/or operators in the extended stay sector?
"My advice would be to focus on the health and wellbeing of your guests and team in equal measure. At this moment in time, our on-property teams are working incredibly hard to ensure guest safety and they should be commended for their efforts. In addition, our long-stay business model lends itself to social distancing, so be agile and quickly implement measures to facilitate social distancing and protect your staff and guests."

"At Locke, we have introduced touchless check-in and check-out, plus ‘no-contact’ housekeeping that delivers fresh linen and cleaning products to your door. The on-property teams are in direct digital contact with each guest to regularly check-in on their wellbeing and are organising door drops of supplies too, if needed. In our London properties, we have reformed our food and drink offering to create a grocery delivery service for guests and local community, and created a food bank that aims to support 100 people each week. This caveats into a secondary piece of advice, and that is to play your part in the local community and society. As our focus is extended stay, we are fortunate in many ways by being well-equipped to host individuals in need at this moment in time. Carefully consider your social impact and wherever possible, give back."

• What have you learnt so far from the changing landscape? And how can this guide your preparation for recovery?
"It has highlighted that hospitality is more fluid than ever, and businesses need to be agile and adapt quickly and sensitively in an ever-changing crisis. As we were created with extended-stay front of mind, each Locke and SACO apartment is designed to be lived in. This means guests can enjoy complete autonomy and continue their every day while staying with us, or in current circumstances, hunker down and stay at home. These efforts have been compounded by the rapid response of our on-property and central teams, who have swiftly introduced new health and safety protocol, and kept in close communication with guests to provide reassurance. In the wake of COVID-19, I believe travellers will become more aware of the option of self-contained accommodation that facilitates an autonomous lifestyle, and perhaps also a renewed focus on health and safety."

"On a wider industry level, it’s been terrible to see how some brands have been devastated. Yet the conversation amongst our peers is positive and supportive. I believe we will emerge with new level of unity, soul and consciousness that will play a significant role in our successful recovery – both at a brand and industry level."

• In a post-pandemic world, what would you like to see happen and/or change?
"Suddenly our daily life has been disrupted and we’ve been forced to slow down, reflect and ask questions. I believe travellers will become far more aware about how they travel and how frequently they do it. We’ve seen the statistics showing reduced pollution as a result of the global slowdown, which I hope will make people travel more consciously and responsibly. The vast majority of us will be working from home at this moment in time – and if other businesses are similar to edyn, we’ve been encouraged, and perhaps a little surprised, at how effective it can be with clever use of the right technology. Perhaps businesses may think twice about flying employees to another country for the sake of one meeting. The same goes for leisure travel: I think people will have a renewed responsibility for their carbon footprint and may choose to travel less frequently, but for longer periods of time."

"At the very least, this period of enforced isolation reminds us that we are fundamentally social animals, and if we previously took our ability to travel and congregate for granted, maybe in future we will have a deeper appreciation of the importance of companionship, community and connection."

 

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