Communicating Through Crisis Part II: Hospitality and Lifestyle


Five minute read

The COVID-19 pandemic has raised the stakes for communications strategies across all industries. Companies have found themselves in the unenviable position of having to keep their business going while people are getting sick and dying from this virus. But in order to maintain some sense of normalcy and economic stability, business operations must continue and communications must strike a balance between health and safety.

Soundbytes has surveyed how some of the most affected industries have handled their communications during the pandemic. Part two of this series takes a dive into how the hospitality, restaurant and cultural sectors have adapted:


With domestic air travel down as much as 95 percent, health experts recommending against non-essential leisure trips, and large conferences a relic of the not-so-distant past, the hospitality industry has been among the hardest hit segments of the economy. Average occupancy rates are down to 43% percent, according to research firm STR, and some hotels and resorts — unable to break even while adhering to new capacity restrictions — have temporarily closed.

Perhaps more so than any other real estate asset class, the near-term future of the hospitality business is murky. Several questions abound: When will families begin vacationing again en masse? When will business travel approach pre-pandemic levels? What does the future of conventions look like?

Undeterred by the pandemic, some hotel owners continue to operate their properties in an effort to serve guests and sustain cash flow. For these companies, including many of the world’s largest hospitality brands, putting heads in beds has meant overhauling housekeeping protocols, investing in touch-less technologies to promote health and safety, and ramping up marketing communications to keep guests informed and engaged with their brands. Some hotel owners are going a step further by opening new properties, the pandemic be damned!

There’s no doubt that the hotel industry will eventually come roaring back to life. Indeed, when virus immunity becomes widespread and discretionary spending returns, business and leisure travel is likely to be one of the first parts of the economy to see a bounce-back. Until then, savvy hospitality owners and operators will emphasize creativity and communications with an eye toward the future of their business.


The pandemic has been no walk in the park for any industry, but this rings especially true for restaurants. A steep decline in dining has left a multitude of restaurants with little to no revenue, causing many establishments to shutter their doors permanently. Those restaurateurs who have managed to stay afloat amid the crisis have gotten creative in the process – from D.I.Y. dining kits and cocktails to-go, to new outdoor dining rooms, business owners across Miami are doing whatever it takes to stay relevant, stay open, and in some cases, launch a new concept.

How are restaurants, strapped for cash, able to offer discounts at a time like this, you ask? The Miami Downtown Development Authority kept that in mind when creating the City’s Go Local, Go Direct campaign, which was designed to benefit both consumers and restaurants. Restaurants participating in the program must offer patrons a 10% discount on their delivery order if they order direct; in turn, these restaurants are able to avoid the high fees charged by third-party delivery services.

Dining out in Miami has also taken on a whole new meaning as recent county-wide regulations have prohibited indoor dining. To help restaurants expand outdoors, the Coconut Grove Business Improvement District and Miami Downtown Development Authority worked with area businesses to secure outdoor permits, giving these eateries the power to transform city streets, sidewalks, and parking spaces into outdoor dining areas. They also funded the costly umbrellas, tables, and chairs many restaurants required to immediately begin serving locals in a safe, outdoor setting.

With more time on their hands, many restaurants have even opened the door to new ventures. Pop ups like Bar Lab’s outdoor wine concept Margot at Nikki Beach and Old Greg’s Pizza in Brad Kilgore’s Kaido kitchen in the Miami Design District are everywhere! Keep your eyes peeled for whats next.


Throughout the pandemic, museums have creatively adapted their programs to suit our new socially distanced lifestyles. Arguably one of the only industries that can still thrive virtually, museums around the globe have used their online platforms to allow viewers access to their favorite artworks from the comfort and safety of their homes. In the early days, world-renowned museums like The Louvre offered virtual tours of their galleries so that art lovers everywhere could get their culture fix, even during stay-at-home orders.

ICA Miami, credit Iwan Baan

Some institutions even went as far as developing virtual learning and recreational opportunities for children and their families to do throughout the quarantine. Institute of Contemporary Art, Miami rolled out numerous programs since the onset of the pandemic to continue offering people of all ages access to arts education – from online learning programs for kids of all ages to their Knight Foundation Art + Research Center seminar programs. Beyond these learning programs, ICA Miami also developed a program of activities for kids for Summer 2020, anticipating the struggle for parents to entertain their kids during a summer where camps weren’t an option.

Now that re-openings are slowly happening around the world, museums are taking creative measures to ensure the safety of their viewers. Most museums now require a ticketed booking for entry as capacity levels have been slashed, temperature checks are conducted at the door, and distance markers are placed on the floors so that people viewing the same art piece don’t get too close. Just don’t forget to pick up a new mask with your favorite masterpiece printed on it on you’re way out!