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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Brand Mission: Finding Your Why

Brand Mission: Finding Your Why

If you’re anything like me, it’s way too easy to get caught up in the daily grind of work—meetings, presentations, trips, repeat—and forget the underlying forces that motivate us to keep at it. Of course, we all work to grow our business and make some money, but is that really what gets us out of bed in the morning? What’s the deeper meaning that motivates us to do what we do—and not just work for work’s sake? I started asking myself this question recently after hearing a terrific speaker: Simon Sinek. He called this deeper meaning your “WHY,” and he makes a convincing case that each of us needs to define our mission and values—as individuals, as teams, and as companies—in order to succeed. Here’s Sinek’s argument, in sum: You…
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Uncover Why Many Travel Companies Are Becoming Content Marketers

Uncover Why Many Travel Companies Are Becoming Content Marketers

If you’re an American of a certain age, you probably remember The Love Boat. It was a corny sitcom that ran from 1977 to 1986 and was set on a cruise ship. But beyond the campy fun, the show was notable for something else: It was the first successful example of content marketing in the travel business: The action took place aboard the Pacific Princess, providing invaluable exposure for Princess and the entire cruise industry. I was reminded of the show when reading recently about Carnival’s recent success as a producer of television shows. The corporation, which oversees 10 cruise brands, now creates six different series on major U.S. networks through its Ocean Originals arm—including “The Voyager with Josh Garcia” on NBC; “Ocean Treks with Jeff Corwin” and “Vacation Creation,”…
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The Everlasting, Indestructible, Unbreakable Industry

The Everlasting, Indestructible, Unbreakable Industry

For those of us in the travel industry, the 24-hour breaking-news cycle is a real stress-inducer. What terrorist attack, natural disaster, international crisis, or tweet-storm is going to be next? Will we see a wave of cancellations? How is it all going to affect our bottom lines? But after a particularly terrible string of events—I can just name-check the places, like Paris, Nice, Puerto Rico, or Hawaii, and you’ll know what I’m talking about—I’ve come to realize that the travel industry is much more resilient than it ever was. Something awful happens, a few people cancel or reroute their trips, occupancy rates drop... and then people start traveling again. Even if travelers temporarily steer clear of certain destinations, their appetite for travel per se is undiminished. They’re not afraid to…
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