Well, I got the call; “Your services are no longer needed as a result of the COVID-19 virus and the effect it has had on our industry.” After 13 years with the Pocono Mountains CVB, 10 years with the Bucks County CVB and another 25 years in hospitality, how could this be? My services were no longer needed. I never felt so hurt and betrayed by the industry that had encompassed my entire adult life. Now what? Should I stay and fight? Should I go back out in the work force at entry level positions?
Then one day, I received a call from a colleague going through a similar circumstance. He had worked in the sports industry and felt that sporting events might be the best and quickest way back into tour and travel. We started to have phone conversations asking the question, “What is life going to look like post-COVID?” “What are we going to be doing post-COVID?”
A third colleague from the destination management world joined in the conversation and things seemed to click. Perhaps, this was not the end of the line but merely an opportunity for a new start and a new direction. What if we took this set back and turned it into a comeback? Why not put our 100+ years of experience together and create a new way of doing business? This new way of doing business would require us to put others first. We would have to be less self-reliant and more prone to service.
COVID-19 has changed the rules of engagement. We now wear masks in public. We must remain 6 feet of social distance apart from each other. Hands must stay washed. Zoom meeting stock has soared. The old ways of doing business are of little to no effect. A new way of getting the job done has emerged. You can try to do it all by yourself if you want to. I would not suggest going at it as the lone wolf. You are going to need assistance and I mean a lot of help. There are too many variables and unknowns for us to take this on alone. Welcome in the new.
Meetings are either virtual, hybrid or face-to-face. Meeting space is now used as a studio. We are working primarily from our home office. Far less air travel. What ever happened to the cocktail reception? We do not even wear name badges anymore. The meeting and convention world has turned upside down.
My colleagues and I figured; we might as well start writing a new playbook. Something that more resembles the world in which we live. Let us start really digging in and helping our friends and neighbors. Helping our clients and family members. Helping the strangers we meet and the folks who were once our enemies. Let us just offer our services to everyone who is in need. Start by being better listeners. Really hear what they have to say. Offer our expertise without any strings attached. Let the new way of working show us how to repair the damages caused by COVID.
Start by asking yourself the question, “Will my action or inaction benefit my client?” Can I assist them in a strategic plan? Can I introduce them to a local political leader? Can I suggest venue space that would be perfect for their local meeting? How can I be of assistance?
We started a new consultancy firm called KKD Tourism Advisors with that same approach. Putting our skills and services out there for anyone in need of a helping hand. Some projects might only take a week or two. Some projects might require weeks, still others could take years. If we are helping then why not? It is the new way of doing business. Our clients are not forced to pay a full-time salary with benefits. They can just kind of rent the skills and get senior level assistance. Let us just call it the new “Benefit Plan.”
David M. Jackson, CMP, HMCC
Managing Partner, KKD Tourism Advisors