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Flockeo: Can you introduce yourself and your team, tell us how you are dealing with the current situation and how you see the future?

Nadine WITCZAK: Our team is out of the ordinary. Why?

Because our institution is independent, and I doubt there are many independent structures left in the city centre of Nantes. Employed as an Executive Director since 1988, I’ve been working in this hotel with three different managers, who have always trusted me and my different projects. So my team and I have been through a few crisis, but we’re still here. The Iraq war: 1991, airports and train stations were closing on the national territory and professionals were not insured anymore by companies for their business trips. Therefore, the first video conferences appeared. Other crisis we faced were the different flu epidemic episodes, or even in 2008 the economic situation due to the subprime crisis in the US.

We have a united team, human, to retain customers and make them want to come back. The oldest collaborators have been working here for 25 years, some for 10 or 15 years, and some students and interns often join us for a bit, and they are always satisfied with their experiences.

We have gender diversity, but also mixed origins: French, Spanish, Algerian, Beninese, Cameroonian etc. It is just a little bit complex to choose the menu for the end of the year’s dinner! But for public and religious holidays, it’s nothing but happiness, there is no need to involve the HR department, everyone can have them.

As we are independent, we want to be seen and recognized. Since 2003, we have had many certifications for quality and environment. Now and since 2011, we hold the European Ecolabel and show it off even more than our stars so that international customers can feel reassured when booking in our hotel.

The Covid-19 crisis is different than the past ones, we had to close on the 17th of March. Lots of cancellations, our team is worried, our customers are as well… It is impossible to travel, and despite our efforts to keep working with a smaller team, on the night of the 16th of March, we had to face reality: only one customer in the hotel… Sadness!

We have to close, let all our partners and suppliers know about it, start the process for the partial unemployment, empty the fridges, share what we can, and finally the most complicated, say goodbye to the team without knowing for how long we won’t see each other… No one knows. Making sure to have everyone’s phone number, promise to call each other, to give news and to take care.

Today, the welcome desk phone is not working anymore, but my personal phone as well as the manager’s one stay on. I read and process emails from home. The appearance is different, more relaxed, but motivation remains the same. All team members are going well.

Financial health of our small boat has always been good and healthy, so we can survive a few months, hoping that no big wave will cause the vessel to capsize. Of course, we have life jackets, we would be taken out of the water and back on the market but still… I’d rather not think about this.

Here is our story. Now, about the future, I think measures have to be taken:

  • Relocate vital items on our national territory, for example companies that manufacture health protection to be completely dependent if another sanitary crisis shows up.
  • Set up an international health monitoring system that would prevent any new epidemic episode. It already exists in oceans to prevent tsunamis.

I read once in an Asian book: “A Nation that does not respect its elders is a Nation running towards its own destruction”.

Let’s think about it, there’s food for thought.

A crisis like the one we are going through has to make people think and ask questions about their daily actions.
Now, we STAYATHOME and are full of hope, things can only get better.

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