Hindsight 2020

Liau Wen Ting
Dec 29, 2020
5 min read

As we finally approach the end of a tumultuous 2020, many of us can’t help but heave a sigh of relief and hope for a fresh new start in the year ahead. It has been an incredibly challenging and disruptive year, bringing about one of the greatest nightmares of the travel industry. Regardless of the darkness we find ourselves in, we have realised that it is often in the darkest skies that we see the brightest stars. Looking back, 2020 has taught us many valuable lessons that have helped us to become better and stronger. A few of our team members share how they found strength in these difficult times.


Nessa – Revenue (Indonesia)

Never would I have imagined that the world would change so dramatically in 2020. What a year it has been! Some of my friends/colleagues lost their jobs, I bought a home in Bali and I even tested positive for Covid-19. Buying a house in Bali was the highlight of my 2020 but the impact of Covid-19 on the tourism industry in Bali left me with a great sense of emptiness. I felt like a big part of me was taken away with so many jobs lost due to travel restrictions. Despite the challenging year, we at ZUZU managed to build an extraordinary team and a strong business. We kept going and growing by observing the changes in the market and devising new strategies. Witnessing the success of our strategies in boosting revenue for our hotel partners brought so much satisfaction.

However, just when things were picking up on the professional front, I tested positive for Covid-19. It is a really scary experience to be so vulnerable and helpless. I worried if each breath I took would be my last. With the support and encouragement of my family, friends and colleagues, I was able to stay motivated to keep fighting and not giving up. I have tested negative for Covid-19 but my health is still not fully recovered. This health scare has brought a new perspective to my life. I have decided to pursue a healthier lifestyle and make my health the top priority for me now. 2020 has taught me, both on professional and personal fronts, that moments of vulnerability and weakness can help you to build strength and find ways to survive and succeed.


Paul – Sales (Vietnam)

First of all, I want to take this opportunity to appreciate ZUZU for being the best workplace I have ever been at. I am so thankful to be able to grow personally and professionally here. As we head to the end of 2020, let’s look back and give a little pat on each other’s shoulders because we are fighters who have powered through a rough year. Looking back, the world has witnessed losses and challenges due to Covid-19, the biggest pandemic of my time on earth so far. Restaurants and hotels have been closed, companies have laid off thousands of employees and so on. However, it is still my firm belief that there are signs of beauty among us.

Did you see the Spaniards singing on their balconies and making music during the lockdown?

Did you see people coming together regardless of race, standing together and fighting for the oppressed?

My team and I have also been fighting hard even though everything seems to have gone downhill. I would like to share my personal story of growth and learning. I’ve realised that I’ve grown so much in this period and am thankful to my team for allowing me to do what I’m passionate about. I’ve gotten the chance to travel and see people from many cities in Vietnam. It has been such an enriching experience being able to talk to them, listening to their stories and hearing about how the pandemic has affected them and how they have chosen to respond. I learned to be a man, who stands for what’s right. I’ve learned much through enduring suffering and now I value life more than ever. I’ve learned to share with people around me, learned to say sorry and thank you, and have experienced how wonderful family always is.

My biggest takeaway is learning how to stay positive even when life is more difficult than ever. Staying positive does not mean being happy all the time. It’s not just about smiling through the pain but about being willing to accept things and making the most of the cards played into our hand. Drawing some lessons from the famous movie – Rocky Balboa, we don’t necessarily have to be the strongest and fastest guys in the ring to succeed. We just need to be persistent like Rocky. Improvise, adapt and overcome, and we will get through this. As long as we keep encouraging each other to put into practice what we’ve learned in this tough time, we will be able to shine when the time comes.


Mei Qi – Revenue (Malaysia)

This year has been a challenging year especially for most of us that love to travel. The pandemic has disrupted my travel plans for the year including my family trip, an annual ritual. With working from home becoming the new norm, having a stable internet connection has been one of the biggest challenges for me especially when joining virtual meetings. At times, attending meetings can be like watching a broken video clip. On a positive note, I am now more productive at work as I do not have to spend approximately 3 hours a day stuck in traffic. I have also managed to clear some items off my personal to-do list which has accumulated over the years. Now, I enjoy the satisfaction of crossing something off from the long to do list.

With the hospitality industry being one of the worst hit industries, my advice to hospitality industry professionals and business owners is to put away your old mindset and learn to accept the uncertain and sensitive travel demand that is in the market right now. In order to remain sustainable during this unprecedented challenge, we have to be flexible and competitive especially when supply is more than demand. Be open minded and give every possible opportunity a try. The key is to treat everyday as though it is your very first day operating a new hotel. To sum up, the biggest lesson I have learned in 2020 is to be grateful and appreciate the people and things around you.


Ana – Product (Singapore)

This year has not been easy for any of us, but through adversity it revealed what a great team and organization we are! Personally, being an expat almost 12,000 kilometres away from home, not being able to see my family for over a year and having to postpone my wedding party weren’t easy decisions. On the work front, saying goodbye to team members and working remotely took a lot of adaptation and hard work. However, with great challenges arise perseverance and persistence in both our personal and work lives. I saw how it gave us great focus, made us lead and mean, and drove everyone to focus on maximising results. I am really thankful for everyone whom I’ve worked with the past year for the strength they have displayed. Let’s close the year, hopefully moving towards a much better 2021 and rejoice over our many achievements:

  • We expanded into new product verticals. We built and delivered the new products from scratch and integrated it with external partners, to create new demand channels for hotel partners.
  • We made significant improvements and upgrades to our infrastructure to ensure that we have a resilient stack and product which will allow our partners to optimise their results, scale and thrive when global travel starts picking up again.
  • We have managed to get the entire organisation together virtually, staying connected regularly and having fun together.

In closing, we should all be proud! We’ve learnt that together (even if physically apart), we are able to persevere and succeed in whatever we set ourselves to achieve.


Yoga – Operations (Indonesia)

This pandemic has made me more grateful. Working from home has actually been one of the best things so far, although it poses a great challenge to me in terms of self-organization. Despite my slips and failures along the way, my team has been very supportive in my journey. The key for me is to never take anything for granted and keep striving for self improvement. Everything is possible with technology and a positive mindset. I think we also need to see this pandemic as an opportunity to learn more. I believe that the lessons we have learnt will help us to move forward even though currently life seems to be more difficult than many of us have ever experienced. We are all feeling the impact of the pandemic and business instability, especially in the hospitality industry. Yet, as David Rockefeller once put it, “If necessity is the mother of invention, discontent is the father of progress”.


Musree – Sales (Thailand)

2020 has been such a crazy year leaving no one unscathed. The year started on a high for me as I received a promotion and started managing a team. However, this joy was short-lived as I struggled to keep pace with sales and team management at the same time. With Covid-19 impacting the travel industry, even my hometown Bangkok struggled. While international travel is severely restricted, domestic travel has been picking up. With this in mind, I approached many new markets I could target that had hotels who did not have the technological know-how or time to build up their online presence. Identifying these prospects with a strong demand potential but weaker online presence required more work on the ground and a slightly different approach compared to what I was used to. My new approach helped me learn the important lesson of resilience. Through it all, I am very grateful for my leaders who have been a great pillar of support, believing in me and inspiring me to never give up even in the toughest of times.


Jip – Revenue (Thailand)

Ever since I decided to work at ZUZU, I knew that I was in for an exciting ride. Working at a startup offers a different kind of reward that does not come in the form of dollars and cents, but rather in skills attained and opportunities seized. Covid-19 created a “new normal” of working from home for all businesses. It was a challenge to ensure that my team stayed motivated, especially if we had to work remotely for a long period of time. At the same time, I am thankful for Covid-19 which has reminded me that the only certainty in life is uncertainty. I’ve learned that it is important to have savings, and that having a family is a huge blessing. This situation has forced me to put up a fight against the challenges at work and life by having a positive attitude. I have also become a better version of myself with regards to communication and time management. Together as a team, we have also learnt how to work better with one another and trust each other ( We definitely still miss the coffee break gossip lol).


Reskha – Operations (Indonesia)

2020 has been like a wild roller-coaster ride for me. Everything started to change when the pandemic hit. My fellow coworkers and I were used to discussing matters and chatting in person until everyone had to start working from home where we could only communicate virtually through Zoom or Meet. At first, it took us some time to adjust and adapt to these changes in terms of our workflow, time management and even maintaining a healthy work-life balance. We started working on many projects simultaneously which was honestly tiring at times and we felt like we really needed to take a break. At the same time, this pandemic has also hit everyone hard, but life still goes on. I hope to continue to learn to be grateful for God’s blessings and appreciate what I have in life. To quote some lyrics from my favourite K-pop band BTS “Although everything is paused, don’t hide in the dark. Because the light will shine again.”