Our yearlong struggle with the coronavirus pandemic has dragged on for so long that many of us have almost forgotten about how things were before. The waiting has been the worst — waiting for Covid tests, waiting to be vaccinated, and waiting for some sign that life is beginning to return to normal.

During the pandemic, business planning has been a hit-or-miss proposition.

For BB Riverboats, business in 2020 was cut by approximately 90%. Often I wish for the proverbial crystal ball to help see what the future holds for my business, employees, and crew.

One day news reports signal improvement in suppressing the spread of the virus, then reports on following days show an uptick in infection rates. With these fluctuating reports, should we still expect a resurgence in business this spring? Or should we just cross our fingers and hope for the best? Should we be optimistic about the future or should we be concerned?

I have chosen to be optimistic. This is the only way I know how to cope with all of the dysfunction and uncertainty associated with the Covid-19 pandemic.

It has been a year full of anxiety. I am not a health care professional, but I believe that optimism is critical if you are going to successfully work through the issues that have caused the anxiety in the first place.

I believe that the worst is behind us now and tomorrow is a new day with exciting opportunities to build back our businesses.

When I was a teenager, I remember my father telling me that when you are in business you need to put a smile on your face, be cheerful and be nice to people. Most of all, you must respect your customers’ needs and wants. If you do this, then you will come out ahead every time. 

I am enthusiastic about 2021. Our phones are ringing again, our social media is active, online sales are good, and demand for private events is decent.

I am confident that we will continue to move forward. Many passenger vessel operators from around the country feel the same way as I do.

This is a good sign. After all, the key to success is simple: be optimistic, smile, and life will get better.

Alan Bernstein, owner of BB Riverboats in Cincinnati, is a licensed master and a former president of the Passenger Vessel Association. He can be reached at 859-292-2449 or [email protected].