Phocuswright Europe 2020 preview: Out of Office with… Alexander Limpert

Alexander Limpert, GuestReady

Alexander Limpert is co-founder and CEO of GuestReady, a short-term rental management company that has served more than 85,000 guests and manages apartments in 14 cities around the globe.

In a series of interviews with executives participating in the online event in September, PhocusWire finds out what they have learned from the COVID-19 crisis.

Knowing what you know now, if you could go back to the start of the coronavirus crisis, what would you do differently?

I wouldn’t change anything in particular. Looking back, we made the right choices at the right time to set ourselves up for overcoming this crisis. We were quick to adapt to changing demand and shifting our focus from short-term stays to mid-term stays. We implemented new check-in and cleaning procedures for the health and safety of our guests.

Already in March, we took the hard decision to make redundancies and to implement salary reductions for our staff especially the senior leadership and myself. We also were quick in applying to and obtaining government support in different jurisdictions.


What have you learned from this time about the way you’ll manage and communicate with your team moving forward?

At GuestReady, we have team members in eight different countries and 15 cities. So already before COVID-19 we were working together as a distributed team. Almost all collaboration and all important decisions were already made online.

As a distributed team, regular and transparent communication has always been important to us, and during this crisis its significance increased even further. Each week, we have our all-hands video call, sometimes with over 100 people. Every team member has a weekly one-to-one video call with their manager.

The only thing that really changed was that I have been giving more in-depth updates about the current situation and where we are headed as a company. I also provide an additional update on Slack each week. I think this helped to provide transparency and instilled confidence that we are making the right decisions.

What do you miss the most about travel?

When I travel, I like to explore cities the way locals would experience it. I miss tasting different local cuisines, immersing myself in the unique atmosphere of a city and listening to the sounds of a different language. I also have friends in many different countries and it is great to meet them in their hometown and to learn from them about their cities.

What have been the surprise benefits to not traveling?

It has been much easier to stick to healthy routines. The last few months were a time of high stress and pressure levels. I told myself that as leader of a company it is my duty to stay in good condition so that I can continue to fulfill my obligations towards the team, investors and partners and make the best decisions possible.

I’ve never been as diligent sticking to my workout routine, cooking and eating healthy food, drinking almost no alcohol and getting around eight hours of sleep every night. It’s harder to follow such habits when you’re traveling around the globe.

What lasting changes will there be to you personally from this time?

Facing such a dramatic crisis as a leader is not a pleasant experience. However, I believe that it made me grow as a person. I learned to stay calm and focus on the things that we can influence and don’t get emotionally caught up in things that we cannot control.

Throughout this time, I also realized that while bookings, revenues and profits matter and while we do our best to recover lost ground, there are far more important things, such as the health and well-being of the people around us such as customers, employees, family and friends.

What’s been your one guilt pleasure during lockdown?

It has to be peanut butter. It’s very high in calories but I love the flavor and can’t resist it.

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