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We’ll face COVID with cohesion

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posted May 21, 2020
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The worst is yet to come.

Only after the dust has settled can we truly assess the magnitude of the economic disaster of COVID-19: how many businesses couldn’t make it out of forced hibernation; how many family members, friends, neighbors, and peers will have to cope with long-lasting changes to their work conditions; and how many within our industry simply won’t have a paying job to return to.

This doesn’t mean we should remain hopeless and helpless. Now is the best of times to dig deep, accept the new reality, and put our best foot forward to speed up the recovery of our fragmented industry. Looking at my own skill set and the limited resources I had, I decided to tackle one major issue: the long-term impact of cyclical large crises on our industry jobs.

With the help of Marina Petrova, the owner of a competing business, we managed in less than a month to start HTTA.US and launch the U.S. Hospitality, Tourism, Travel and Activities Recovery Registry on April 16.

The nonprofit initiative and platform allows individuals within our industry who are unemployed or furloughed and have lost access to their work email and credentials to stay connected with associations, DMOs, and trade partners.

The HTTA database is completely confidential, and we hope to also use the anonymized data to better pinpoint which communities, which job categories, and which subsets of our sector will require the most help. Following our launch, the next phase is becoming a repository of educational resources; then will come gig boards, job boards, and volunteering/internship opportunity boards.

NTA provided us one of our very first endorsements along with strong words of encouragement: HTTA enables the association to provide its leadership and guidance to our most vulnerable peers.

What led me to create HTTA? I kept asking myself what could give our industry a fighting chance, and I answered it with three words: cooperation, collaboration and innovation. Your competitors could become your strongest allies, your suppliers could become your first new clients, and your past clients could become your strongest advocates and talk about you in positive ways you never thought about.


Here are a few examples of how this approach could work for you:

Cooperate

Get in touch with local and regional peers and see if they’re willing to form a pool for purchasing and storing face masks and sanitizer products. You can bet you will need a fair amount when you start accommodating guests and visitors again. With bulk ordering, you can mitigate the costs for your pool.

Collaborate

According to the National Sales Executives Association, 80% of sales happen between the fifth and twelfth interaction with a client. That’s a lot of time and money spent before seeing some ROI. But imagine that you have created some new products that include the first markets to reappear—local and domestic—and it can be sold by some of your competitors with an even split on margins generated. That could expedite the sales process, and you might get feedback from your competitor that helps you refine the product.

Innovate

Although our website is a technical platform, don’t contemplate innovation only from the tech standpoint. Innovation is about looking at uncharted territories—and there are a lot right now—and testing something not attempted before. Perhaps you can talk to prospects you never approached before because they weren’t in your typical client base. Or maybe you’ll create tours you never considered before, everything from a local factory outing to a day at a local lake with socially distanced checkered picnic blankets.

For those of us in the travel community to support each other, we can embrace the three words that led to the creation of HTTA.US, and we can mention its existence to our colleagues and peers.

Although the worst is yet to come, what can the worst do to us if we are prepared for it and ready to show cohesion and resilience?

Jonathan Elkoubi, a former NTA Advisory Board member, is the managing founder of HTTA.US and a co-founder of VisitorTix.com, a B2B online activities marketplace.

Top photo by Depositphotos