The pandemic’s not over, so how should we talk about it? Why innovative messaging is so critical to engage your customer.

The pandemic’s not over, so how should we talk about it? Why innovative messaging is so critical to engage your customer.

This must be what Purgatory feels like. One year after the first lockdowns, travel is still stuck in the in-between: much better than the catastrophe of 2020, but not quite ready to celebrate yet. For every reason to be hopeful — an uptick in bookings, progress with vaccinations, talks about global health passports — there is a reason for continued caution. As of this writing, about 18% of the U.S. population has received at least one dose and just shy of 10% have had both. With progress this gradual, many consumers are still hesitant to make plans. Those sentiments were a theme at an industry roundtable I co-hosted last month with Jack Ezon, Founder and Managing Partner of Embark Beyond. Many of the travel executives in attendance shared a mix…
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We Are Living in an Age of Anxiety…

We Are Living in an Age of Anxiety…

To say that we are navigating an uncertain world is a huge understatement. The pandemic, the economy, the American election, the future of our great industry — are all causing substantial confusion, anxiety, and stress. While we are all focused on figuring out what might happen next and how to deal with it, one issue that I fear we are not paying enough attention to is mental health. Whether you are considering your workforce, your business partners, or your clients, emotional and psychological wellness is at risk. Studies are showing that the pandemic is having broad psychological repercussions. In a survey by the Kaiser Family Foundation in mid-July, 53% of U.S. adults reported that their mental health has been negatively impacted due to worry and stress over the coronavirus — up…
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Black Travelers Matter: So why is our industry so damn white? (Part two)

Black Travelers Matter: So why is our industry so damn white? (Part two)

In my previous post, I wrote to you about the issues of racism and diversity and how the travel industry comes up short in multiple ways. I also shared insights and advice from experts I’ve spoken to. I’ve received a sizable number of responses so far. Most have been positive, thanking me for exploring the subject. Others have complained that I’ve waded into politics—however, I see this not as a political issue but as a business issue. Today, I focus on the subjects of marketing and operations, as well as the concept of “anti-racism,” and make the business case for why diversity matters.  If you missed the last post, you may read it here. What Message Does Your Advertising Send? Diversity in Marketing As Tyronne Stoudemire, Vice President of Global…
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Black Travelers Matter: So why is our industry so damn white?

Black Travelers Matter: So why is our industry so damn white?

The last time I wrote, in May, we were still trying to understand the short- and long-term effects of the global pandemic. We have learned quite a bit since, but with recovery faltering in many places, the overall outlook is still a bit cloudy. One thing I believe we’ve all learned is to expect the unexpected. But I’m writing now on a different topic. Among the many surprising things to have happened this year is how quickly the issue of race and diversity has burst into our collective consciousness. Of course, racial inequality and injustice have always been a concern, particularly for members of minority groups. But the murder of George Floyd by Minneapolis police in May and the protests that followed, first across the United States and then around…
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Talking Travel: How to Communicate to Consumers and Employees Right Now

Talking Travel: How to Communicate to Consumers and Employees Right Now

As I write this, the travel industry is beginning to see some light at the end of the tunnel. The recovery will be likely tentative at first, and focus on staycations, drives, and short-haul trips. But there are so many dependencies—transmission rates, social-distancing regulations, border closures—that it’s impossible to make meaningful predictions. I’m curious to hear when you anticipate business returning, where your forward bookings are concentrated, and when you may start to bring employees back. Meanwhile, in the here and now, things remain confusing. For every story about reopening there is another about the virus resurfacing. That makes it particularly challenging to communicate, both externally to consumers and internally to nurture company culture. These topics were on the agenda of a series of roundtable discussion with industry leaders that…
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My Take on Coronavirus: Why Now Is the Time to Keep Talking

My Take on Coronavirus: Why Now Is the Time to Keep Talking

What a difference a month makes. Just a few weeks ago, I sent you the results of our annual Pulse of the Industry Survey, reflecting a mostly sunny outlook for 2020. Most respondents forecasted continued growth in revenue and bookings, their optimism quashing any concerns about terrorism, natural disasters, or economic uncertainty. But then Wuhan sneezed, and the rest of the world started catching cold. I don’t have to tell you about the major disruptions that coronavirus has already caused in our business. The real questions are: How bad will things get? And what do we do to get through? I’m afraid none of us can answer the first question, which depends largely on the speed and lethality of the virus as it spreads around the world. The initial analyses…
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FAR FROM THE MADDING CROWD – Will we ever get over overtourism?

FAR FROM THE MADDING CROWD – Will we ever get over overtourism?

  Overtourism: Everyone is talking about it. Everyone wants to do something about it. And nobody is going to stop traveling. So, what to do? One thing is for sure: In this hyper-connected, over-polarized, blame-happy era, the issue is not going away. Overtourism is more than the controversy du jour—in fact, I think it may become the defining issue of our time, along with the overlapping issue of sustainability. And while many of us deal mostly with the higher end of the market, we can’t kid ourselves that it’s a mass travel issue that doesn’t affect us. Travelers are impacted by the crowds on the Spanish Steps whether they’re staying at the Hassler or the hostel. Nor is the problem limited to large cities. Overtourism is to blame when Barcelona…
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The Economy: How Worried Should We Be?

The Economy: How Worried Should We Be?

As fall gets into full swing and we start planning for 2020, I know that many of us are feeling the winds of uncertainty about the economic outlook—for the travel industry and for the world at large. Political instability in the U.S., Brexit, trade wars, the Hong Kong protests, the collapse of Thomas Cook—those and many other factors are contributing to a sense of trepidation, tingeing whatever optimism we may have about future bookings. The guarded mood reminded me of a speech given recently by the celebrated British economist Gerard Lyons . The talk, which was presented at an Accor-sponsored event for travel industry thought leaders, was sanguine about the various challenges faced by the global economy. But it also stressed the many positive underlying factors that should reassure those…
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A Collection of Thoughts on Hotel Collections

A Collection of Thoughts on Hotel Collections

You may have seen the news in January that Ted Teng will soon be stepping down as President and CEO of Leading Hotels of the World. Most of you share my high regard for Ted, who ran LHW for 10 years. Interestingly, his departure was announced around six months after Filip Boyen left rival Small Luxury Hotels of the World; Boyen, in turn, was replaced by Jean-François Ferret, who came from Relais & Châteaux, yet another independent hotel collection. All this executive shuffling got me thinking about the role these collections—which also include Preferred Hotels & Resorts—play in the luxury travel industry today. All of them were established in the pre-Internet era to provide…
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What Lies Ahead: Travel’s Biggest Challenges In 2019

What Lies Ahead: Travel’s Biggest Challenges In 2019

It’s the most wonderful time of the year—the season when travel publications and experts tout their predictions for the next 12 months, like the hottest destinations and the big new trends. (Am I the only one who feels like the “new” trends always sound a lot like the “old” trends?) I’ve decided to do something a bit different: I’ve compiled a few issues that I’d like to see the industry tackle next year. Some of these are new problems, some have been bubbling up for a while, but they need our collective attention. As an industry observer, I know what incredible things we can accomplish together—innovation, technology, creating experiences‚ all in the name of bringing people together so they can do business, learn something, or bring value to their lives.…
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