In case you missed the discussion on June 24, takeaways are below and the webinar in full along with other past sessions, is on the YouTube channel.
Although the fireside was virtual for this chat, The Travel Vertical was extremely pleased to catch up with Don Welsh, president & CEO of Destinations International.
With 459 members, Destinations International is the world’s largest and most reliable resource for destination organizations. The organization’s focus is to inform, connect, inspire and educate members to drive destination economic impact, job creation, community sustainability and quality of life through travel. Our readers may know that Don comes from a destination organization chief executive background as well.
Q: Is it fair to say that lately, you’ve been in more airports than most of us. What have you observed in your travels?
A: My wife and I got stuck on a Hawaii vacation in mid-March and after being stranded for 54 days, our very circuitous route back to D.C. had us making connections all over. And business has taken me to Sarasota, Pittsburgh, Indianapolis, Columbus, Ohio. It’s almost as though each airport has its own personality; the country has a patchwork of protocols, which doesn’t make it any easier for travelers.
Q: We’re excited to talk to you about Destinations International 2020 Annual Conference on July 13-15. Because it’s shifted from Chicago to virtual, how is that fact impacting the event?
A: There’s a great turnout. Options like “All Access” are bringing more folks than might be able to attend an in-person event. Our professional development steering group has curated and developed meaty topics around a road map to recovery.
And we have a couple of do-not-miss keynotes from inspirational individuals delivering personal talks on two important themes: hope and kindness, fearless leadership. If you haven’t read the poignant “Tuesdays With Morrie” by Mitch Albom or seen the made-for-TV movie, you’re in for a treat; the author is joining us. Then there’s Carey Lohrenz, the first female U.S. Navy F-14 Tomcat fighter pilot, who knows what it takes to succeed in one of the most demanding, extreme environments imaginable – the cockpit at Mach 2.
Q: We cannot get too much good advice these days. Any other conference highlights you’d like to mention?
A: Yes, I’m looking forward to moderating an important and timely session on diversity, equity and inclusion. Also, our Global All Stars session with our partners at Miles Partnership is always a place where it’s exciting to hear from thought leaders about putting best practices in play that address the trend away from destination marketing toward destination management.
Q: If you had one piece of advice for destination organizations today…?
A: Actually, there are two things. First, in reflecting on so many conversations with our members, I can point out the importance of cities, counties, and states to have an engaged and active destination organization at the center of the conversation. Even while challenged by reduced funds and reduced manpower, the destination organization is the central repository for research and education, health & safety information and real-time data.
That brings me to the second thing: advocacy. Even when tourism was booming, over the past couple of years it’s become increasingly clear that we must all double down on our efforts to communicate our role and value proposition in the community…even beyond our stakeholders to elected officials, civic leaders, and definitely residents, too.
Unless funding of a destination organization is statutorily locked in, there’s tremendous vulnerability built into the funding model. Now in this crisis, with 97% of our members existing as 501(c)(6) nonprofit organizations, about 20% of them face a critical need for funds in the next 60-90 days. Because there’s currently no provision for destination organizations to benefit from forgivable loans under the Paycheck Protection Program, we’d urge everyone to lend their voices to the urgent call for congressional support for an expanded CARES Act that embraces tourism.
Q: Speaking of risk assessment, changing funding models, advocacy and laying the groundwork for future, would you mind getting out the crystal ball to talk about the fourth iteration of DestinationsNEXT Futures Study?
A: It’s a coveted global report, for sure. We undertake this project with MMGY NextFactor, typically every two years since 2014. In 2019, more than 520 industry and community leaders in 55 countries participated. Clearly, as a cornerstone study and a tourism masterplan, it’s certainly going to require fundamental changes in all aspects of its analyses and we’ll hope to produce it for the industry sometime in 2021.
Q: Thank you for the conversation, Don. Closing thoughts?
A: Well, I’m an optimist. I can say that as an industry, we’ve never worked more closely together. Everybody’s aware of the fact that this is also a highly personal matter for each of us; we all have pretty heavy emotional issues to carry right now. But, I do see daylight and I’m confident that we’ll get through this having built even stronger communities in the process.
No mask, no dice. Local entertainers are handing out branded face masks at McCarran International Airport, reinforcing “Vegas Smart” messaging and the mandatory requirement. “We want our visitors to feel confident that coming to Las Vegas is still a fun and healthy experience. We know how much our visitors miss Vegas, and we want to welcome them back to enjoy the destination as safely as possible,” said Steve Hill, president/CEO, Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority. “The mask mandate is a necessary and smart step on behalf of Nevada Governor Sisolak to make sure we can continue to share the world-class experiences you only find in Las Vegas.”
Broadway theaters will remain dark until next year, with refunds and exchanges now being offered for tickets that were sold through Jan. 3, 2021. “The Broadway experience can be deeply personal but it is also, crucially, communal,” said Thomas Schumacher, board chairman of The Broadway League, in a press release. “The alchemy of 1,000 strangers bonding into a single audience fueling each performer on stage and behind the scenes will be possible again when Broadway theaters can safely host full houses.”
Cirque du Soleil has filed for bankruptcy. The company will create a $15 million employee fund to provide financial assistance for the almost 3,500 employees who have been laid off. “For the past 36 years, Cirque du Soleil has been a highly successful and profitable organization,” Daniel Lamarre, president and CEO of Cirque du Soleil Entertainment Group, said in a press release. “However, with zero revenues since the forced closure of all of our shows due to COVID-19, management had to act decisively to protect the Company’s future.”
The U.S. House of Representatives has passed a bill to create the District of Columbia as the 51st state. In Washington, D.C., license plates declare “end taxation without representation” despite having a population of 700,000— larger than that of Vermont or Wyoming.
Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo signed an executive order last week that removes the phrase “…and Providence Plantations” from all future communications and websites. The nation’s smallest state is now set to consider changing its official name from “State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations” if voters agree to amend the Rhode Island Constitution in November.
Mississippi will have a new flag. The only one of 50 state flags incorporating the Confederate symbol, lawmakers have approved its immediate removal. A committee will be created to approve a new design. Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves has signaled he will sign the measure. The National Collegiate Athletic Association and the Southeastern Conference had indicated that Mississippi would be precluded from hosting championship events until the change flag had a makeover.
Other side of the pond: The United States is not on the list of countries the EU will allow back into the European continent when reopening begins on July 1. Travel restrictions into the U.K. have been in place since June 8, whereby passengers are required to self-isolate for 14 days on arrival.
Mixed Messages and Industry Updates:
- No to the Zoo: San Francisco cancelled plans for June 29 reopenings, including museums.
- Disneyland in Anaheim, California has postponed its opening. The planned date of July 17 has been pushed back.
- Tennessee Department of Tourist Development has partnered with some 30 local brands to develop the TN Strong Mask Movement, which has distributed more than 300,000 free or low-cost masks across the state.
- Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Giménez issued an emergency order to close all beaches from July 3-7, no firework viewings, no parades.
- Throughout Florida, there’s an immediate suspension on the consumption of alcohol in bars statewide.
- Texas, Louisiana, California, North Carolina, Nevada, Kansas, Maine and Idaho have all delayed previously announced reopening phases.
- American Airlines will drop social distancing and start booking flights to full capacity from July 1. United Airlines is doing likewise.
- Delta Air Lines is capping at 60% of capacity; Southwest at 67%, both through Sept. 30.
- JetBlue will leave middle seats empty through July 31 unless the person is traveling with a passenger in an adjoining seat.
- Alaska will have a summer without cruises, which normally brings 1.4 million visitors to the state in May through September.
- Starting Aug. 1, out-of-state visitors to Hawaii will not be subject to 14-day self-quarantine if they have proof of testing negative within 72 hours prior to arrival.
- In New York City, mass transit ridership is inching up but remains 80% lower than this time last year. Cars are preferred, with traffic on bridges and tunnels down 20% Y-o-Y.
- Johns Hopkins University & Medicine Covid-19 Research Center is publishing new case trends in all 50 states plus D.C. and Puerto Rico in a 3-day moving average graphic. See neighboring states or pick one from the drop-down list shown below.
- The Facebook ad boycott is snowballing, impacting Instagram, YouTube, Snapchat, and Twitter. Closing their wallets: Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, Starbucks, Diageo, Unilever, Verizon, Honda, Levi Strauss, Hershey Co. plus Adidas, Clorox, Ford, and HP now joining the ranks of earlier brands: The North Face, Patagonia, REI, Ben & Jerry’s. Here’s a running list.
- Tik Tok has launched TikTok for Business featuring “Brand Scan,” an AR effect, plus Brand Takeovers, In-Feed Video, Hashtag Challenges, Hashtag Plus, a shopping feature.
- The vacation rental company HomeAway, an Expedia Group brand, is being absorbed into Vrbo.
- Sonder, the short-term apartment rental startup, has raised $170 million in a Series E round of funding at a $1.3 billion valuation. Sonder leases and renovates apartments in trendy city neighborhoods, renting them to customers through Airbnb, Expedia, and its own site.
- Tripadvisor is beta testing Reco, a direct consumer-to-travel agent trip planning and booking app that could be priced at $199 per trip.
- Twenty years later, the Segway is out of production. The manufacturer, China-based Ninebot, will lay off all 21 staff at its Bedford, New Hampshire plant on July 15. With a price tag at $6-$10K and batteries at $1K, only police departments and tour groups could afford the electric people transporters.
Wieden+Kennedy Portland won a trio of top honors from the 2020 Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity last week. Even though the festival was canceled, the first-ever Lions Creativity Report of the Decade produced global ad agency rankings for prizes over the past 10 years. Independently owned W+K earned: Independent Agency of the Decade, North American Agency of the Year, and second place in Agency of the Decade. Have you seen the Travel Portland and Travel Oregon ads?
People, Places & Jobs
Hawaii Tourism Authority is seeking a new president and CEO following the announcement by Chris Tatum that he is retiring on Aug. 31. Applications are being reviewed by Bishop & Company, a Honolulu-based executive search firm. View the job description at www.hawaiitourismauthority.org/who-we-are/careers. Interested applicants should submit a resume, cover letter and salary requirements to firstname.lastname@example.org by 4:30 p.m. HST on July 15, 2020. For any questions, contact Erinn Tomlinson at email@example.com.
Splash Mountain, the flume ride at Disneyland Park in California and Magic Kingdom Park in Florida is being completely reimagined. Replacing “Song of the South” is a new experience inspired by the animated film “The Princess and the Frog,” Disney’s first animated film featuring a Black princess.
In Pinellas County, Florida, Visit St. Pete/Clearwater has cut its budget by about $9 million for the upcoming fiscal year and reduced capital spending by nearly $11 million. Tampa Bay Times reported that the comeback campaign called “brighter days ahead,” has been put on ice because safety is top priority. The DMO just ordered Visit St. Pete/Clearwater-branded face masks and 50,000 bottles of 4-oz. hand sanitizer. “As it continues to get worse, people don’t want to hear from us,” said Leroy Bridges, VP Digital & Communications. “There are more important things.”
City streets are seeing record numbers of bicycle riders. Bike sales across the country were up 65% year-to-date over 2019, according to data from the advocacy organization PeopleForBikes, a Boulder, Colorado nonprofit. Its recent survey shows 9% of American adults say they’d ridden a bike for the first time in a year because of the pandemic, and a majority of those expect to continue. (BTW, there’s a full-time job listing on this site.)
In order to “invoke the Francophone culture and the warm hospitality that has established Québec as a unique and world-class destination,” Canada’s provincial Québec Tourism has rebranded from Québec Original to Bonjour Québec.
Visit SLO CAL in San Luis Obispo on California’s Central Coast is hiring a digital marketing specialist with 3-5 years’ professional experience in digital marketing—ideally in the tourism or hospitality industry.
Sean Dixon has been named president to head up Visit Topeka and the Greater Topeka Partnership. Dixon will join the organization in mid-July from the Springfield, Missouri Convention & Visitors Bureau where he has been director of marketing for more than 10 years.
Branson Lakes Area Chamber of Commerce and CVB has announced the resignation of President/CEO Jeff Seifried, effective mid-July. Seifried has been with the DMO since 2015 and leaves to join Connell Insurance as Its chief executive. EVP Jonas Arjes will assume the role of president while the board conducts a national search for Seifried’s replacement.
In Ohio, Highland County Chamber of Commerce and Visitors Bureau of Highland County announced that Destiny Bryson, executive director of both organizations will be stepping down to transition to a new role with Ohio Southeast Economic Development. (The CVB board is currently accepting applications to fill Bryson’s vacancy. Interested candidates may contact Elizabeth Brennfleck, HR director, firstname.lastname@example.org or send a cover letter and resume to email@example.com.)
A tribute to Milton Glaser who died last week in New York City, age 91. The celebrated graphic designer created the famous I ♥ NY logo, granddaddy of all tourism branding. Glaser sketched the design on the back of an envelope while riding in a taxi in 1976 and contributed it free of charge at a time when crime and budget troubles deeply troubled New York’s image. The original in red crayon is in at NYC’s Museum of Modern Art.
Whereas, the United States has 50 states, one federal district and 14 territories, and
Whereas, these entities make up a patchwork policy quilt model rather than a blanket one for Coronavirus response and recovery, and
Whereas, keeping up with the changing nature of these orders is very tricky, and
Whereas, the tourism industry really needs this information,
We share this tool created and maintained by the international law firm Baker McKenzie.
“We are pleased to provide this Tracker, which identifies the relevant state-wide shelter-in-place orders and their related expiration dates, as well as the applicable state-wide reopening plans, in each of the 50 United States plus Washington, DC.
While most states continue to encourage or even require telework or work-from-home where possible, many states continue to gradually reopen sectors of their economies as indicated in the ‘What’s Open?’ table, which we have added to each page to highlight the reopening status of four major sectors (office, manufacturing, retail and bars/restaurants).”
Fifty states + Washington, D.C. are provided with a link to local county orders where relevant. Here’s the document link.
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*from last week’s webinar*