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Corona Interviews: CEO Alexander Hildebrand on Contingency Plan in Event Business

My name is Alexander. I’m the chairman and CEO of Luxury Trade & Marketing Group what also includes lifestyle equipment Solutions a biggest rental company for equipment and Furniture.

We have also a supply chain for Hospitality with full-service like coffee and also we have operating dinner in the sky. All of them right now shut down, but let’s see what comes in the next.

What changes, the current situation is nothing gets better, so far ! because really the business what we doing hospitality and event is 100% down. We have a cancellation rate of 100%, so the business is Zero.

What we took out of this is to prepare ourselves for the future because it will be a future this is without any question and you know.

Every company, every man in the world have all these things what you want to do when you have a little bit of time you want to prepare you want to renew somethings you want to make things new like your website or your catalogue, or your advertisements. Whatever, this is what we doing right now. The hospitality is down, our operating what we have is dinner in the sky, we can’t operate it and events are not anymore happening.

So what we do is we prepare ourselves for let’s say ‘The Good Wave’ . What will come I think in the last quarter of this year that everyone wants to do everything in 3 months is what we’re preparing for and we working out on strategy and everything.

What is in our boxes in the different cases to make it now, prepare it now and be ready when it goes again up. The learning curve for sure will be there after this situation, but I don’t think it’s something that you have originally a plan B because things like this never happened before.

Even if you go back hundred years, with the World War I and II. This was not affecting the whole world in this scale Like we have it right now, it’s a shutdown of the whole economy.

This is nothing where you can have a plan B. The only thing right now is always when human beings getting, let’s say in Germany we say

” when you’re getting in the corner, you develop the instinct to survive.” and this is what we’re doing right now.

So we are looking for opportunities like one example with our coffee, we are starting now home delivery. We have capsules that is suitable for Nespresso machines, that is even a really good quality, but it’s very competitive price, if people sitting at home, home office, they’re drinking coffee like water.

So that they’re not going out to buy it so, we bring it to them.

We also preparing the new online platform and stuff like this. What will be needed in the future this is the only thing what you can do. And of course, we also hope that the economy at a certain point gives back what we’re missing right now.

But also I’m pretty sure that some of the players in the market will not be there, after the crisis and we really here in Qatar.

We can compare it with the blockade in 2017 for me it’s ‘Deja Vu’. This is very similar situation. We tried to be strong, strong enough and maybe a little bit stronger than before.

This is the only thing what I could name it a plan B. To keep the moral in the team is one of the major points we’re doing for them right now. We started last week with a Sunday kick-off. My advantages I’m coming from a long history of management and Leadership skills. So, I know how to engage people and my team is really highly motivated.

Of course at a certain point, they are afraid of what comes up in the future. But so far we have a common sense that we fight right now the battle. Also what we did I think this is very important, we limited the sources of information to real sources with facts and not all these rumors and stuff like this.

So I think this was one of the best points we could agree on the whole team that you not listen to all these rumors. And you just make all the decisions, all the information of what you get on real fact and we know that there will be a future and the future will be very demanding. Because you can see it already on the horizon that all the events what is postponed right now or cancelled however we want to call it.

They will they will do it in a very short term, because everyone wants to have an issue in 2020 and also at a certain point, it’s not so bad to have quiet time to think about things and think if all these things what we doing up and down is really necessary. Focus on the really essentials.

This is what we doing right now. I’m motivating my team especially with speech and with leading on example, so they know we fighting together. We going through this as a team. We not anymore in the different departments only. We have all the departments right now working together and help each other, sitting together or exchanging information that everyone is on the same level The main question that I think it’s challenging.

Is nobody knows how long it will takes. For the finance perspective in what is up for the future in revenue and also in cost cutting or in cost is very easy. The revenue I have to be expecting in at least, next 3 to 4 months with zero. So it’s very easy calculation.

What is in your bank account?

What is easily to cut down?

Like we had scheduled some new Investments. This is just let’s say in the end It’s cancelled, because there’s no way to do it little bit later. And then of course you’re looking for other resources. And also every company i think especially in our size has a kind of reserve.

So right now is the time to be very careful to use it and to survive , and all our planning’s right now ,we think six months. I’m not expecting that it gets better until in 6 months from now on. So this is what we write now and timing up and the last way is we need to go to the bank and ask them for help.

For the leadership management question how to survive in this situation. I have two opinions. In the end I think the mixture is the most successful is a very traditional thing of You need a leader. There’s nothing about we are democracy and we all keep things together because as one person or maybe a very small group of persons that takes responsibility because in the end it’s a financial decision and the other thing is what we doing right now, what was already scheduled but we didn’t do it until now is integration of a project management software.

What should keep us in the position that everyone knows, notice everything in real time. So let’s hope that this gives another inputs to the team, we also checking every option. What is possible in the market?, And where is the next Niche maybe we can go for it. And let’s see, what comes up. My final statement is I know we will survive. I read an article, very interesting article.

It’s a luxury problem what we have, so we will find a way. I can only say, “I wish that all the people I know that they’re with us after the crisis and we will have a brilliant future because a lot of things coming up especially in Qatar. So let’s go for it.”

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