As a business serving clients in the travel, tourism and hospitality industry exclusively, when the travel pause began in March 2020 we wondered if we would make it through the year. On Monday, March 16, 2020 I drove to work after dropping my kids off at school expecting to start another work week with our usual status meeting. Instead, I spent much of my drive on the phone with our leadership team debating whether or not to close the office. By the time I arrived, our Governor had announced NY on Pause, requiring everyone to stay home for at least two weeks. And so it began, a year like none of us had experienced before and a year that delivered so many valuable lessons. As we pass the 12-month mark, I offer the following 5 lessons that my team at Break the Ice Media learned during the travel pause.

5 Lessons Learned During the Travel Pause

1. The value of values

A strong company culture starts with a set of values that everyone knows, understands, and believes. We’ve spent several years integrating our values into all aspects of our company. When NY on Pause started in 2020, these values became foundational for sustaining our culture in a remote environment and enabled our team to make quick and meaningful decisions to get us through the year.

Our core values: Passionate, Light-hearted, Authentic, Collaborative, Equitable, Growth-minded and Transparent. I could write an entire book citing the examples of our team using these core values throughout the last 12 months. To illustrate the power of our values, we leaned on passionate, collaborative and growth-minded when we helped our client, Travel Alliance Partners convert their live travel show into a virtual event while keeping profits, connections and the experience intact.

2. Importance of mindset

Growth mindset is one of our core values, but the lesson goes beyond the value. We chose to approach the uncertainty and challenges that presented themselves during the past 12 months with a forward-thinking mindset instead of a fixed-mindset and a growth-mindset instead of a scarcity mindset. By making conscious choices, we were able to see many more opportunities to overcome obstacles.

Employing a growth mindset allowed us to see the opportunity to help our industry. We believe that now more than ever, tourism marketers need to have plans that are based in research and strategy. So we shared our proven 7-step process for strategic planning through a free infographic, online course and new Recovery Roadmap product. These tools help tourism marketing professionals find their greatest opportunity.

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7 Step Strategic Planning Process Infographic

3. Kindness and helpfulness are part of our passion

A few weeks after shutdowns started happening across the world, we hosted our second virtual summit. The summit had been planned prior to the shutdown. However, once we realized the impact of the crisis on the industry we love, we decided to hold the summit open to all with no cost to attend. That started us down the path of being as helpful as we could for the industry.

We offered help in many ways over the past 12 months. We continued our weekly podcast, Destination on the Left and our weekly blogs (like this one). In addition, we developed Executive Briefings – offered for free – to any organization interested in inviting us to share. The presentations cover insights and information to help travel and tourism organizations pivot and plan for the future. We have presented to 15 organizations and continue to offer this free service. If you are interested in scheduling a presentation or would like to know more, please email Rhonda@breaktheicemedia.com.

4. Technology is empowering

Technology enabled us to seamlessly move from an in-person office to a successful remote team. Our tech stack includes Zoom, Teams, SharePoint, Slack, Teamwork Project Management and others. These technologies empower collaboration, productivity and efficiency. We know how powerful technology is for our team and we saw how it transformed the industry and helped our clients.

When the Wayne County Office of Tourism was looking for a way to promote their annual Apple Tasting tour in October 2020, we helped them create an experience that would promote touchless participation. Using an app and gamification, the tour transformed from a high-touch pen-and-paper experience to an online interactive adventure.

Technology has been instrumental most recently for connecting destinations, attractions, and travel buyers virtually. We produced a virtual travel trade show for our client Africa’s Eden. Delegates attended this global event for 3 days of meetings, seminars and networking. The virtual event aimed to foster relationships and create opportunities for future economic impact.

5. Collaboration enables surviving and thriving

Amazing collaborations happened across all sectors of the industry over the past 12 months. We believe that collaboration will be a critical ingredient for recovery. In November 2020, we held a study on collaboration in the travel, tourism and hospitality industry. The insights from this study will help organizations achieve the best that collaboration can offer — while avoiding the pitfalls. Watch the study results webinar or check out the visualized results of the collaboration study.

It has been a year of the unexpected. This experience has taught us many lessons. We are poised and ready to help our clients and colleagues benefit from the knowledge gained over the past 12 months and stand together moving forward toward a bright future.