How Tourism Will Survive the Pandemic

  • Insights

Throughout the pandemic brought on by COVID-19, I’ve been blessed by the opportunity from Connect Travel, in partnership with Streetsense, to lead and moderate a series of weekly webinars for the hospitality, travel and tourism industry. Having traveled the world several times over and spending 20 plus years working in the entertainment and tourism industries, these past several months have given me an even greater look into the ways hospitality and travel + tourism can not only survive this pandemic but come out on the other side even stronger. 

Our Collective Leadership Acumen

Make no mistake, there are some truly inspiring and visionary leaders in the hospitality and travel + tourism industries — Brad Dean, CEO of Discover Puerto Rico, Jack Johnson, Executive Director of the Destinations International Foundation, and Anne Marie Maher, Director of the Office of Tourism for Prince William County, to name a few. But based on the paralysis the pandemic has brought on and informed from the understanding no leader can lead where they’ve never been has given us all an invitation, a true gift really. Our collective leadership acumen has been tested and we’ve struggled to respond. If we are to survive and come out on the other side, we’re going to need to invest here and learn to openly ask better questions of ourselves and one another.

Acknowledge the Institutional Gravity

No industry or organization on the planet can ignore the effects of its own institutional gravity for long and remain successful. The hospitality and travel + tourism industries have experienced the longest decade of growth on record with an unfortunate byproduct of numbing itself to the institutional gravities preventing healthy innovation and digital transformation. Simon Sinek, the New York Time Best Selling Author and TED Talk luminary has long preached the importance of building a culture where we not only build upon a vision with a clear understanding of the why behind the what we do, but also one where we’re consistently paying close attention to institutional gravities which disrupt us from our purpose. Recovering from the impact this pandemic has wrought on the hospitality and travel + tourism industries is requiring us to discover and shine the light on these institutional gravities and collectively work together to solve the problems they’ve created.

Measure What Matters

In order for the hospitality and travel + tourism industry to survive the pandemic, we must first admit we’ve long measured things which simply don’t matter. Vanity metrics are just that, vanity. And as lynchpin industries dramatically influence the quality of life in cities and destinations around the world, how can we continue to ignore the voices of those impacted most? We must commit to educating ourselves, our boards and fellow industry leaders to no longer rely on soft, easy vanity metrics. Instead, if we’re to survive and come out on the other side recovering to a next vibrant normal, we must hold ourselves and our partners accountable further down the funnel.

For a deeper look at some of the key takeaways from moderating five months of COVID-19 webinars, take a look at the guest post I’ve published here.


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