How Businesses Can Innovate During A Pandemic: Live Events, Restaurant, Hotels and Transportation by Rabiah Sutton

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How Businesses Can Innovate During A Pandemic: Live Events, Restaurant, Hotels and Transportation by Rabiah Sutton

April 06
17:32 2020

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During an unexpected incident like COVID-19, most people are not thinking about innovation in their personal or business lives.  Rather, they are trying to ensure they can survive in this unsettling, unprecedented time while under quarantine.  Once your survival plan is in place, I believe it’s the perfect time to start a creative process and find ways to infuse some innovation into your business model, especially if you are in one of the sectors below.

Live Events

The live events industry was one of the first sectors to get hit by COVID-19 aka Coronavirus.  Events that have been planned for years were postponed or even worse, canceled.  Most likely, business insurance will cover the cost of the loss of venue and other related expense, but the companies and brands will miss out on opportunities to upsell the live audience, which is a large portion of the revenue for most events, in addition to sponsorship dollars. 

For example, events featuring motivational speakers are designed to hold your attention, give you information and leave you yearning for more. Many of these events are geared toward providing attendees with additional opportunities for seminars, courses and private coaching following the event. But fear not, if you are a speaker, the pandemic is the perfect time for you to finalize your online programs, if you haven’t already. You can also add in a video or phone component for increased access to your audiences. You can do livestreams from your home or office and people can login and watch from home. Many streaming services allow for a chat component and audience engagement. Depending on which software you are using, you can even bring guests or audience members in remotely if you want to do something more interactive.

Many actors and comedians are already using this method to connect with their fans through Q&A sessions. Kevin Hart has launched an IGTV series titled “Confessions of the Hart” in which he is making personal confessions and telling stories about himself. Hart’s fans are loving it and they getting to know him even more. Though he is very forthcoming in his stand-up specials, fans are getting to hear about him more intimately, without the trappings of a stage and live audience.


If you own a restaurant and you haven’t signed up with one of the many delivery services (Postmates, Uber Eats, Caviar, Seamless, DoorDash, GrubHub), now is the time.  Though people have been buying out grocery stores weekly, many will soon need a break from cooking or will start craving their favorite restaurant meals, especially the longer the lockdowns continue. In the age of coronavirus, no contact is the best contact. All orders and payments should be conducted online with the ability to pay and tip up front. The delivery apps are already set up for this and many have initiated contactless deliveries. Restaurants can entice new customers with promotions such as BOGO for people who are hunkering down. The apps also enable pickups. Your employees can serve food to customers at the door while wearing gloves, so everyone is safe.

Restaurant owners should also be thinking about augmenting their menus for family orders. Get creative with your menu by adding family-style meals, four-packs or eight-packs. You might want to try making meal kits or frozen entrees that customers can heat up at home in their ovens. 


The hotel industry has been decimated by the coronavirus pandemic. Some upscale hotels have tenants with yearly leases so those hotels will still bring in some revenue. However, this is not the case for the majority of hotels and motels. Hotel and motel owners should explore pursuing government permits to provide shelter for healthcare workers, senior citizens (who may need to be removed from nursing homes and quarantined), the homeless and other displaced persons. New York City’s Four Seasons Hotel has offered their rooms to doctors and nurses fighting coronavirus. California is already working to lease hotels and motels to house the homeless. If you own a hotel, you might also consider pairing with a hospital that could potentially reach capacity to serve as a temporary hospital or quarantine unit. In that instance, you should begin immediately working with hospitals to make preparations and assess safety concerns.


If you have a vehicle that you use for work already, you should continue to use that vehicle for work. Rideshare (Uber/Lyft) drivers, taxi drivers and truck/van drivers should pivot to delivery whether it’s for Amazon, food delivery apps, grocery apps or restaurants. Hiring at these companies is skyrocketing. The grocery delivery app Instacart is adding 300,000 new jobs over the next three months to meet escalated demand. There is a shortage of drivers and making deliveries is much safer than picking people up. Even if you don’t already use your car primarily for work, if you are out of work, you should consider it temporarily. Getting into the transportation game is one of the biggest opportunities out there right now.

Rabiah Sutton is the founder and CEO of FWDthink, an award-winning consulting and advisory services firm that specializes in performance improvement and strategic planning for government contractors. She is an expert business strategist and coach who holds a M.B.A from John Hopkin’s University and a B.A. from American University.

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