There’s nothing like a global pandemic to change life as we know it, eh? But while social distancing meant simply staying inside for many of us, small business owners were faced with a tremendous challenge: how to continue “business as usual” through highly unusual circumstances.
We chatted to Alicia Szerszyn, sales and marketing manager at Paradise Resort, about how they adapted to not only survive, but thrive!
As a business director, what was the biggest challenge COVID-19 threw your way?
Not knowing what came next once we closed our doors and how long they would stay closed for. Our resort was purchased by new owners on the 29th February and we closed our doors for the first time in 40 years on the 27th March. After spending almost a year in receivership we had no idea what the new owners would do and at the beginning it created a lot of questions but with great leadership from both our owners and General Manager our staff all banded together and took action to renovate our resort.
What was your biggest learning through it all?
That if you are in a position to help others you should but don’t judge those who can’t as you never know peoples circumstances. Throughout the time our resort has been closed we were able to donate the furniture from our rooms to locals in need, food from our mini-mart to local charities, bottled water to the team at OZHarvest and breakfast packs that would have otherwise expired in the time we were closed to YHES House here in Southport that offers support to local youth and homeless. Our new owner Dr Jerry Schwartz is well known for his charitable efforts and strongly believes in making a real contribution to changing lives, educating people and bettering the community and upon buying the property said that it was important Paradise Resort should have a renewed vision and we well and truly have.
What is one way your business got creative in order to survive (and hopefully thrive!) during COVID-19?
We have been fortunate to be undertaking some major renovations but a highlight has been working with our Entertainment Manager Vinnie to stay connected with our guests through virtual activities. Our entertainment manager Vinnie created an online experience offering live trivia every Thursday night via our Facebook and Youtube Channels where our fans and past guests could jump on and play from home as well as watch live videos of magic shows, take part in arts and crafts workshops, listen to and request live music from some of our talented musicians and take a virtual trip to Paradise Resort from the comfort of their homes. Its been loads of fun and has really opened up communication with our guests to say hello and keep in touch with what we’ve been doing since they’ve been gone.
How have the past few months changed your business strategy moving forward?
We are honestly still re-evaluating and continuing to make changes daily but I think the way in which we communicate to our customers overall has definitely changed. Our market is young families with school aged children many of who previously were so busy in their daily lives that a holiday at Paradise Resort was a chance for them to re-connect but through our trivia and messaging in our social channels we are starting to see those connections come back together again. The entire management team has stopped to listen more to our staff and guests and kept them included in what they would like to see in our resort moving forward and really tried to keep everyone involved in the decisions.
What does your new normal look like?
Zoom Meetings, Zoom Meetings and a few more Webinars… haha!