As we continue to navigate the uncharted waters of this crisis, affecting families, business communities, and indeed the very fabric of our society, I am awed by the selfless dedication of so many people to help others less fortunate during this difficult time. Our best wishes for a speedy return to healthy normalcy go out to everyone impacted by the virus.
Since the start of the outbreak, our management team, shareholders and colleagues around the world have remained steadfast in our focus on ensuring the safety and wellbeing of our employees and travelers, and to helping and supporting you as your travel, meetings and events programs are impacted, while preparing for the evolving future. We deeply value our relationship and business with you, and I am proud of the personal and professional support and customer-first ethos being demonstrated daily by our global team.
In addition to maintaining our regular communications updates, we effected our Crisis Task Force in early February, and implemented our business continuity processes and plans – which are based on decades of experience in handling global health scares (SARS, Swine Fever, Bird Flu, BST, etc.). These include global, regional, national and localized checklists and protocols, which are rigorously and regularly tested by our dedicated specialists across the CWT Business Continuity and Incident Management teams. Before many government restrictions were in place around the world, we also encouraged our colleagues to work from home, where possible, and so our technical teams have been upgrading our systems to cope with changing demands, access requirements, and varying internet speeds, to ensure our service remains as reliant as humanly possible. And, we have asked you to increase the use of our digital channels for the foreseeable future.
As the impact of COVID-19 is unprecedented in its severity and potential duration, you may be aware that we are taking steps to reduce our operating spend while we weather this storm. Our approach in doing this has been almost entirely on temporary measures and non-essential activities, honoring our commitments to our clients and with the knowledge that our employees are our greatest asset. I regret the impact these actions will have on our people, all of whom have played a material role in driving excellent performance and growth over the past several years. Notably, the overwhelming support and esprit de corps exhibited by my 16k CWT friends and colleagues around the world is testament to their character, and my heart goes out to each of them with gratitude and admiration.
I am encouraged by the fact that, historically, business travel is one of the first industries to recover from global interruptions – and although small, we are already seeing some early-stage positive developments in parts of Asia. We will be there for you when things improve, continuing to support your needs and as an industry leader. In the meantime, we maintain our absolute dedication to you and value your input, and we will continue to keep you updated with developments as the situation progresses.
I salute the worldwide family that is CWT as well as our clients and partners, and wish you and yours the best of health.