OpinionEmbracing the New Normal

April 21, 2020by Brendan Waller0
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There have been several moments since the COVID-19 pandemic broke that I have caught myself shaking my head and going “is this happening?!” And this week was no different:

The end of Prost as we know it?

For those who don’t know of, or haven’t visited Kitchener-Waterloo, where we’re based out of, the annual Oktoberfest festival has been a mainstay to both the tourism industry and has brought years and years of polka-induced memories for countless residents of the area. Then I came across this real estate listing downtown.

Yep – That is, or should I say, was, the headquarters for the Kitchener-Waterloo Oktoberfest up for sale. Now, the Festival has had it’s share of financial issues in the past but as a lifetime resident of the Region, this hit home – and hard!

Brave New World

COVID-19 is changing our world, whether we want it to or not. If we bring it closer to the world of what Whisky Quarterly Ontario is all about – Think about the number of distilleries around the world that have shifted much, if not all of their efforts into creating hand sanitizer. We’ve seen huge support from distilleries in Ontario alone. The support that the industry has shown is amazing, and it’s also a way for the distillers to survive in this new normal.

I think in a moment in history like this, we all start preparing for the new normal that will follow the pandemic. What does that mean for each of us and our industry?

In our weekly virtual drams through Google Hangouts and/or Zoom we have had people on the frontline, from quasi-government institutions, hospitality and entrepreneurs. One thing is clear from all of them, they are thinking of ways that they are going to have to adapt. No matter what constructs, industries and businesses that remain following COVID-19 leaves us in peace, the new normal will be the system we need to be ready for, and not only ready, but ready to embrace!

By now, whatever business you’re in, you likely are working remotely. How is that going? What systems are you using?

If you’re in a traditional industry such as retail, companies like Shopify have been extending their trials to help bring your business online. This is a direction many of us have used for years, but is a great way to reach a wider audience and keep your customers engaged. Make sure that you’re communicating with your existing customers, if you’re not already, to ensure they know how to find you and continue to purchase.

Hospitality is probably one of the industries that will be struck the hardest. We’ve seen restaurants doing contact-free delivery and pickup. Going online fully with Uber Eats, Skip the Dishes, etc but I wonder what the next incarnation could be? Smaller dine-in spaces, partnerships and as the Province of Ontario has enabled alcohol delivery from restaurants – Will that become a part of the new reality?

For the Distillers, What Will Their World Look Like?

When SARS, the previous Coronavirus that influenced us globally, occurred we saw all hospitals start having hand sanitizer at each door, and many businesses had it in vestibules. I wonder if distilleries, who have been producing hand sanitizer, will have a portion of their production going forward including hand sanitizer, or whether it will flip back to full spirits production.

So I realize that this post hasn’t been all about spirits, fun ways to drink your favourite whisky, but when I had an instance that I saw a very real, very prominent way that COVID-19 is shaping my local community, I wanted to share my thoughts.

Whatever shape the world will take following COVID-19, I wholeheartedly believe that we need to prepare and be ready to embrace the new normal, the new economy and the new way in which we interact both socially and professionally. I know here at Whisky Quarterly Ontario we’re evaluating every week of how to stay engaged as an organization and adapting our model to try and to be as ready ourselves as possible. One thing’s for sure, when this pandemic is all said and done, I can’t wait to have a drink with a number of you!

So, how will you prepare yourself and your business following the pandemic? Have you started already? Share your thoughts and ideas in the comments below.

Brendan Waller

A lover of his family, entrpreneurial ventures and ideas – And a great peated scotch.

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