Fleur Caulton, CEO of the Go To Collection of nine restaurants - Rata, Madam Woo and Hawker & Roll - talks about the "brutal" effect of Covid-19 on hospitality and tourism, and why opening the borders will help economic recovery.
Q: How would you describe 2020 for your business?
A: A true test of both resilience and character. Tourism and hospitality has been brutal.
As a company we have had to make some courageous decisions with no visibility of the future. Super challenging to take things month by month and definitely each month has brought some new twist. We also think there are plenty more difficulties to come.
"What are the opportunities out of this?" has been the top of the priority list and it has not been all bad, definitely some silver linings have come out of this crisis for us.
Q: How do you think the Government has handled the Covid-19 crisis?
A: Overall the Government handled the Covid 19 situation well. Clear leadership and the communication to New Zealanders was outstanding.
The Government could have engaged with the tourism/hospitality industry with more balance and empathy.
Q: What are two key things the Government should do for economic recovery?
A: Open the borders in a deliberate and planned way as early as possible. However, we do not need false starts. Support and encourage the availability/ mobility of labour so that SME's have access to a wide employee pool.
Q: How is your business planning to tackle 2021?
A: Cautiously optimistic with plenty of agility. We will need to adapt very quickly to decisions and events which take place.
Q: What will be the major challenges and/or opportunities for your industry?
A: A sluggish economy with little or no tourism will be our biggest challenge in hospitality. Planning will need to be very flexible. How will the CBD areas of our major cities be revitalised?
Opportunities - definitely some international tourists, New Zealand has plenty to offer.
Q: What was the most interesting non-Covid story of 2020?
A: The election of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris as President and Vice President of the US.
Q: What are your predictions for 2021?
A: Definitely expect the unexpected. Many more twists and turns to Covid-19. New Zealand to retain the America's Cup.
Q: What's the worst mistake you've made in business?
A: Doubting my gut instincts, and not delegating fast enough.
Q: What would you rate as your greatest success in business?
A: The many wonderfully talented people inside my business and the amazing people I have around me outside of my business. Without them I would not have the successes I have had.
Q: Where are you holidaying this summer?
A: No rest for the wicked in hospitality so staying pretty close to home. Queenstown's an incredibly place to be this time of year, feeling very privileged.