Mandy Farmer, CEO Accent Inns & Hotel Zed

Mandy Farmer is President and CEO of Accent Inns and Hotel Zed, BC hotel brands renowned for their colourful personalities and customer-focused service, as well as their commitment to community support.

How are your hotels coping right now, and how is your team feeling about how it will all play out?
It’s been a tough time for our whole industry, but I’m so proud of my team! We’re flexible, positive and creative and we’ve been able to keep our hotels running by adapting to the reality of the world right now. Our culture is all about having fun and having each other’s backs, and we’re constantly connecting and finding ways to support each other. It’s all hands-on deck!

How has the crisis affected your business, and how do you anticipate it will continue to affect it?
British Columbians are wisely staying at home and choosing not to travel at this time, which is what is best for the health of our province, but that doesn’t mean that hotels need to sit empty. We’ve pivoted and decided to stay open for the essential services workers in our community who don’t want to bring the virus home to their families. We dropped our rate to rock-bottom to support these individuals.

Once this hit the media there was an outpouring of support. People have been calling our hotels offering to pay for these essential service workers stays. It has been so inspiring. As a result, we have partnered with the United Way of Greater Victoria to help us set up a proper charitable fund we are calling Hotels for Frontline Workers. Now we have so many donations we have been able to offer these stays for free and that really feels great.

What advice are you giving yourself and your team for riding this out?
We’ve got to get creative and stay positive. We’ve never been a company that “does things the way they’ve always been done” so we aren’t going to start now!

What is the opportunity in the challenge for you and your business?
We have always had an engaged community and activating that community right now is our opportunity. People are stressed and they want to help. Our hotels will be fully occupied supporting essential service worker stays and people who are donating to our Hotels for Frontline Workers feel awesome knowing that they have helped those that are helping us all through this crisis.

What advice have you applied or are you applying from previous experiences coping through crises?
My greatest achievement is putting together the leadership team I have. When you have a strong team, you can weather any storm.

What are your resources right now? Do you have a mentor supporting you, peer group, books you read?
I continue to meditate and enjoy time with my family. I have my team, whom I know I can lean on for support and expertise. I’ve hired leaders who inspire me and who are experts in their fields, so I know we’re always going to do the right thing.

What advice do you have for others experiencing this alongside you?
Don’t panic. We’re all in this together and we will come out of this stronger and more united!