In Search of Meaningful Connections

In Search of Meaningful Connections

In Search of Meaningful Connections

 

What is the one thing that has been most disrupted by this pandemic? No question about it: our freedom to connect in person, physically with other people and places. Our physical, sensory experiences have been curtailed. We’ve retreated into the virtual, digital world of online relationships with family, friends and colleagues. Our physical connection with places has diminished to a small radius of only “essential” interactions.

 

 DisconnecteD

The result? A sensory disconnect that has created a strange dichotomy of both craving and fearing physical reconnection with our greater world and community.

“What does this have to do with Season 3 Episode 3 – Retail Therapy” you ask? Well – we explored the relationship between retail, travel and tourism, with invaluable insights offered by our guests Andrew Jennings and David Green. As you know, in RISE – AND SHINE we like to dig a little deeper and understand more about the human behaviours driving the decisions we make. We also like to check in with our viewers and get a sense of where you are in this – which is why we have our RISE viewer polls. Some interesting patterns are apparent.

 

Meaningful Connection

 

The common thread that seems to run through the choices we’re making is our pursuit of a meaningful connection. Our need for meaningful connection includes:

  • connecting and identifying with ourselves and who we are 
  • connecting to the people inside and outside of our ‘bubbles’ 
  • the way we connect with places – from our local communities to our choice of shopping and holiday destinations.

Connection with ourselves

Over the past year, we’ve seen the increased focus on self-improvement, re-invention, and making decisions in our personal and professional lives that re-examine who we are versus who we want to be. In some cases, this has been forced by changes in personal circumstances such as unemployment. In others, the pandemic has simply raised questions which have redefined our personal priorities, and our definition of ‘meaningful.’

On a consumer level, we see this reflected in the rise and rise of personal improvement and work out apps –  and the increased expenditure on luxury retail as people ‘treat’ themselves to compensate for missed holidays and entertainment opportunities. We need a treat if not a break! 

In our next RISE episode “Mirror, Mirror on the Wall”, we’ll also be looking at the increase in cosmetic procedures and “wellness” tourism, but we digress…

 

Connecting inside our bubbles

 

As our lives are lived within home, support and work bubbles we’ve benefitted from more time with loved ones inside our bubbles and attempted to maintain meaningful connections with loved ones we’re physically distanced from. This has contributed to the strengthening of some bonds, and the dissolution of others. We’ve reassessed which relationships work and which don’t! Anita made reference to increased expenditure on luxury retail within our “affection bubbles.” Whilst disposable income isn’t being spent out-and-about on entertainment, dining and holidays, we’re treating ourselves to retail items for our homes, our loved ones and our pets! Andrew Jennings pointed out, “the retail winners over the past year have been technology, products for the home and pets’ accessories.” Fizzy bubbles are also a great example of luxury in-home retail expenditure – and no, we’re not just talking about Anita here!

 

Outside our bubbles

 

Our connection with those outside our homes has become almost exclusively digital. An interesting aspect of this is our exposure to colleagues’ homes and families – and all the vulnerability and humanity that goes with that. There’s no better example of this than the Richard Quest CNN interview with the CEO of Trivago which was interrupted by Axel Hefer’s young son. What makes this so appealing, apart from Quest’s delightful handling of the situation, is that it’s so relatable to all of us working at home with children and barking dogs. Hooray for the rise and rise in humanity!

 

Moving between bubbles

 

In our previous Season 3 episodes, 1 and 2, we discussed the trend of moving from one safety bubble to another. This is apparent in the current preference for resort destinations and short-term rentals such as airbnb accommodation. As travel restrictions are lifted, the preferred destinations will be the more remote ones, and the chosen travel companions will likely be extensions of our social bubbles, rather than random strangers. The motivation to travel has become a meaningful connection with others, rather than purely adventure seeking or sight-seeing.

 

Emerging from our bubbles

 

As we move beyond lockdown and begin to re-engage with our greater community, it’s likely we’ll continue to seek meaningful connections with the places we visit, whether we’re dining out, shopping or holidaying. Is this because as David Green points out “people yearn to get back to retail,” and when we return to bricks and mortar retail shopping, we really want to make it count, and maximise the experience? This seems likely. Our RISE viewer poll indicated that most of us yearn for both the sensory aspects of shopping – the tasting, smelling, touching aspects (29 %) and the social aspect of meeting with friends and dining out (32 %.) Andrew Jennings agrees that “socialising is becoming an important part of retail and the future of retail will involve socialising and interacting with people.” This is good news for our resident Grouch, Demian! Whilst he proclaims that he doesn’t miss shopping at all, he did also let slip that he quite enjoys socialising at the cosmetic counters of department stores!

After more than a year of limited physical interaction with other people and places, the shoppers and travelers of the near future will be looking to mindfully, safely, re-engage with people and places we’ve yearned for, and rediscover the sensory pleasures of retail and travel, and the social interactions that go with both.  What will be different from before? Quality over quantity, and the increased importance of meaningful connections between people, places and products. 

As always, we’d love to hear your views on this. What do you most look forward to when you’re able to shop in person again?

Don’t miss the next ‘live’ episode of RISE on Monday, March 01st, 12:00GMT  – “Mirror, Mirror on the Wall.”  We’ll be talking about the rise in cosmetic procedures (including domestic Medical Tourism) and Wellness Tourism with our brilliant guests, Dr Clare Neser and Mia Kyricos. RISE promised you interesting angles on our Travel, Tourism & Hospitality industry and we love being able to deliver!

 

Register here to catch us live, or to watch previous episodes. Thank you for being an invaluable part of RISE.

 

 

 

Finding The Faces Behind the Stats

Finding The Faces Behind the Stats

Finding The Faces Behind the Stats

Every week on RISE we try, as best we can to keep you informed of the news rather than the noise of this pandemic, especially as related to the Travel, Tourism & Hospitality sector (TT&H). It’s easy to get lost in the stats, or perhaps it’s more comfortable to focus on those, than on the human faces behind them.

THE FACE OF BUSINESS CLOSURES

Last week’s episode – Trading Spaces, Going Places, for many – really hit us in ‘the feels!’ Was it the raw, chilling, anguish of LA county restaurant owner Angela Marsden in the now viral video clip shared by Demian, in which she rails against the injustice of her restaurant closure, and implores local government and the public for support in saving her and other restaurant businesses? Possibly – it certainly affected all of us. We tease our Prof. Hodari about being grumpy, but all jest aside – this clip shared by him was an emotional insight that truly highlighted the human faces behind all the business closures! 

THE FACES IN OUR COMMUNITIES

There is a real sense that people are making an effort to create order from the chaos brought by this crisis, and to control what they can. This includes how we spend our time and with whom we spend it. There’s a shifting of priorities and purpose, as well as a greater sense of community sharing and responsibility. As you may recall, in our Season 3 kick-off episode on January 18th, we talked about legacy, and how the tourist of the future will likely be a more conscious traveller, with a greater sense of accountability for the impact they make. In our second episode this past week, we talked about how tourism has become a genuinely more community-shared experience.

THE FACES OF OUR TRAVELERS

How do these human insights impact TT&H? Our viewer polls are always revealing, but what was really interesting last episode was that we asked you the same question almost a year ago (Season 1, Episode 3.) We asked: “Which of the lodging sectors will recover quickest after travel restrictions are lifted.”

Back then, 42% of you thought it would be city hotels, and 18% thought it would be resort hotels. Almost a year on, we asked the same question again this episode, and your response has been inverted! The majority – 37% of you, now back Resort Hotels for the fastest recovery, closely followed by short term rentals and only 11% predicted a faster rebound for city hotels. Is this because city hotels are associated with business travel? Or because people prefer to stay away from crowded city centres? Something tells us it’s about trust.

This question ties in with our first poll result which declared that the majority of you felt that remote working and studying would be the one ‘lockdown behaviour’ that would have the greatest impact on your lives 2 years from now. 

Velma Corcoran, our great Exec. In Residence from Airbnb who has the very cool title of Regional Lead for Middle East & Africa, added “there’s been a shift from mass travel to the same destinations to see the sights – to more meaningful travel, to reconnect with loved ones.” This has resulted in dispersed travel to more remote destinations, rather than mass influx into the cities. A positive benefit of this – apart from encouragement that traveling safely is possible, has been the business stimulus to local communities around the host accommodation. This increase in traveling from one “safe bubble” to the next, possibly also accounts for our viewers predicting that resort hotels will be the happy beneficiaries of tourist interest once restrictions are lifted. 

FACING OUR PERSONAL VALUE… AND VALUES

The way that we as people and as communities are coping, and creating a sense of order in our lives, is by re-prioritizing what’s important. These are our loved ones, our communities – local and sometimes virtual. Also how we spend our time – with an increased emphasis on quality time with loved ones. From the distrust in leadership and the conflicting information, has arisen a greater sense of personal accountability and responsibility for the choices we make – thus safeguarding ourselves and those we care about. Predicting and forecasting at the moment is almost impossible, and information is often unreliable. This is why we crave familiarity, transparency and a clear sense of what to expect! Authenticity, accountability and transparency – if these are the personal and corporate values that come to the fore out of this crisis, that wouldn’t be such a bad thing at all!

What do YOU feel are the most important values to you, and what do you value most now? Have they changed from a year ago? COVID19 is dropping a huge mirror in front of us all – what are you seeing?? As always, we love hearing from you, and checking in with you – not just as students and professionals – as people!

Next Monday on RISE we’ll be talking “Retail Therapy” with Andrew Jennings and David Green – 2 highly respected, globally celebrated and driven leaders. They have a wealth of experience to share and more to tell about how these challenging times have made retail a very interesting part of our survival… and our sneaky self-indulgences. Don’t miss out!

Register here to catch us live, or to watch previous episodes. Thank you for being an invaluable part of RISE. 

 

 

 

 

LEGACY LEADERS FACING CRISIS: WISDOM THROUGH THE AGES

LEGACY LEADERS FACING CRISIS: WISDOM THROUGH THE AGES

LEGACY LEADERS FACING CRISIS: WISDOM THROUGH THE AGES

There’s something about families, and their ability to generate an emotional response!

And you know on RISE – we don’t just focus on the happy, shiny bits and ignore the tougher issues. Which is why our focus on LEGACY: “BEEN THERE, DONE THAT!” was so perfect for kicking off Season 3.

Monday the 18th of January saw the return of RISE – unbelievably entering our 3rd SEASON in what we thought would  be a 100-day offering. What a family reunion it was – with all the elements of love, sharing, drama, commiseration, laughter and even the inevitable feisty debate that one usually enjoys at family gatherings!

It was a reunion of our metaphorical family – THE RISE TEAM, and you, our Travel, Tourism and Hospitality (TT&H) relatives across the world. Also, our EXECUTIVES IN RESIDENCE were two brilliant leaders of global family legacy businesses that span many generations – Robin Tauck of Tauck Inc. and Adrian Gardiner of The Mantis Collection

We’re not going to try summarizing all that was said – the episode is worth watching if you missed it. (We’ve have made it easy for you, it’s right below!)

But for the moment, here are some of the interesting points that came through. 

The Future Looks Bright!

You know how RISE loves checking in with viewers at the start of each episode? Our Season 3’s first episode did just that – checking in on how you were feeling the moment 2020 became 2021. In our first audience poll 69% of you reported feeling optimistic about facing 2021. Yes, there was also an acknowledgement of fear and exhaustion, which is to be expected after the year we’ve all had, but to still have a prevailing sense of optimism is something to be celebrated. This attitude was also reflected by our guests, who shared their experiences of managing family businesses through crises over the years. These crises have included war, depressions, droughts, terror attacks and pandemics! Yet despite the trials of past crises and this one, both Adrian and Robin reported feeling optimistic about the TT&H industry’s recovery in the coming months.

We’re Not Wearing Shades

COVID19 continues its relentless spread across the globe, prompting further, and more stringent lockdowns and travel restrictions. International tourism has reverted by 30 years to 1990 levels with 2020 down over 75%, and hotel occupancy is only 10 – 15 % higher now than it was in the first lockdowns.

Sadly, global aviation is expecting to reach 2019 levels of momentum only in 2024. For our industry, aviation is the primary artery. And aviation needs open borders and skies to be able to fly consistently, globally. 

 We also can’t minimise that in our personal and business lives, many of us are still battling the physical and financial effects of the pandemic, either personally or through the experiences of those we care about.

 So, 2021? We are all in for a rough ride. 

But that is where the hope comes from – the ‘all’.

Crisis Creates Unity

We’ve seen this in our industry and in our RISE community over the past months, as sectors, companies and individuals have come together to share information. We’ve been inspired by the collaboration and creativity we’ve seen in problem solving and seeking solutions. Both Robin and Adrian referenced how their businesses and their families had been strengthened and drawn closer through navigating this crisis together. The stakes are higher when your business is a family business, as your name is on the door and you have a legacy to uphold. 

 We loved when Robin shared openly and honestly how COVID-19 has been different to past crises. Now, whilst a third generation company with different levels of family engagement in the business: 

 We are united. We are united in support of this company. Frankly it has brought us closer together than I have ever seen it before, so it has been a blessing in a number of ways.”

 Yet there are still many parallels between businesses and families in the way that they pull together to manage crises. 

 As Adrian said:

 “The whole virus, all the negatives we have had and all that we have had to live through has certainly got us to think. We sit as a team regularly and we say to ourselves ‘How can we survive this?’ Because it is painful, believe me it is really painful. We will get through it. But it is a challenge.”

 One thing that both Robin and Adrian agreed on was that leaders need to communicate, especially during crises. When facing challenges we all seek information, insight, anything, to help make sense of what is happening. It’s natural – we’re only human.

This is why it is critical that leaders are visible, and audible. Crisis calls on leaders to step forward, showing up personally, creating unity through human connections, not relying on official statements. Leaders need to show they care. We all need to show we care… and are cared for.

Tourism Cares

We all know this, as evidenced by the fact that we’re all here! That is also why RISE has been here for you since the pandemic started to shut down our industry. Together, and individually, we’ve seen businesses and individuals coming together like never before, working together, sharing resources and giving back to their communities. We are re-arranging, re-imagining, and re-building. We’ve seen the TT&H industry offering meals and accommodation to essential workers and assisting with testing and vaccination roll – outs. As Demian showed in one of his Headlines this past week, happily we now also see examples such as Washington DC targeting February 1st to vaccinate restaurant workers. This is a great acknowledgement of restaurant staff as essential workers not only within our industry, but within the community at large. 

Interestingly, Robin and Adrian both emphasised the importance – now more than ever – of tourism giving back. This is true, they say, in terms of conservation, and regional community support. Tourism is dependent on wildlife and community resources for its survival, and they predict the tourists of tomorrow will be increasingly conscious and discerning travelers!

Leadership Legacies

Both of our guests stated the importance of giving  – and of showing customers that you care. Adrian stressed the importance of focusing not only on survival, but on using this opportunity to constructively look at how you can make a positive impact as a business. Call it ‘pivoting’, call it ‘innovation’, call it whatever you want. Speedy creativity and the ability to find new ways of getting the job done are vital! 

We loved the Tauck Inc. message of ‘keeping the porch light on’, and reminding customers that they care, that they’re still there that they’ll be there for them when this is all over! This loyalty to customers, and prioritisation of their wellbeing, seems to be a secret of building future success. Forward bookings certainly express that truism.

There are also personal legacies to consider. As leaders, both Robin and Adrian shared how their care for the industry is now connected to not for profit work – working to help the future of our industry. In Robin’s case it is her now being at the helm of Tourism Cares. Adrian takes great pride in his creation of CCF Africa. These are important parts of their legacies not just professionally, but personally. We all have the ability to make a lasting difference. We all have the opportunity to turn this COVID19 chapter of our lives into one of our most important, and proudest, chapters.

 

What would you like your COVID19 legacy to be? And why? 

We love hearing your views, so please keep them coming, not just through our episode polls, but also through comments on this forum. Let us know your perspectives, and also what you’d like to see more of, and hear more about on RISE. 

Our next episode, GOING PLACES – TRADING SPACES  will be on February 1st  –  same time and place. See you there!

Register here to catch us live, or to watch previous episodes. Thank you for being an invaluable part of RISE. 

 

2021: A NEW DAY – A NEXT NORMAL

2021: A NEW DAY – A NEXT NORMAL

2021: A NEW DAY – A NEXT NORMAL

A new year, and a new day is thankfully upon us. For most, 2020 was hurriedly ushered – no, let’s be frank, booted out! A collective sigh of relief emitted as the smoke cleared from those few spectacular New Year firework displays that were permitted across the globe. Mostly, the arrival of midnight was enjoyed in muted celebration from living room sofas across the globe.

Did the first moments of the new year seem a little brighter, a little more desperately hopeful and inspirational to you this year? Or was that just our collective consciousness so eagerly anticipating the upswing that we all need in this enduring, exhaustive pandemic? Whilst the sun is shining on this new day, we have our umbrellas packed and ready. The forecast is still partly cloudy, with a probability of further downpours.

Maintaining a positive outlook through 2020 wasn’t easy. And even early on, 2021 is already proving to be a challenge as news of fresh surges and new lockdowns spread across the world, despite the high speed of the vaccine distribution. We all want to feel positive and hopeful, and not just have to front with a positive attitude at work. It’s okay to admit to those fearful and uncertain thoughts that creep in at 2 am, but nobody wants to dwell on them. It requires a conscious effort to put them aside. 

Which is why we are readying for SEASON 3! From Day 1 back in April 2020 the team at RISE committed to creating a safe space for the global Travel, Tourism & Hospitality industry – you and others across the world – to come together every week, to make sense of the impact of COVID19 on our industry, and all of our lives. 

We thought RISE was about “100 days.” Little did we know! 300 days, 2 Seasons and 28 Episodes later, the RISE team is still here with you, for you. 

And as a new addition to Season 3, we’ve created a RISE ‘Checking In’ blog, extending our ongoing conversation with you. We also hope that you’ll use this forum to tell us what you think, how you are taking on 2021, and let us know what you’d like to see on RISE. 

 

KEEPING IT REAL – AND POSITIVE!

So, where to from here? How do we keep moving forward, staying strong, staying hopeful while we keep our hands clean? 

Starting by asking ourselves “what has this year taught us?” is a powerful exercise in focusing on what’s important. Much has been written and indeed, discussed on RISE, about the value of reclaimed family time, and of exercising creativity and resilience on a scale that neither individuals nor businesses have needed to in the past 70 years. 

We’ve also seen a renewed focus on community, and the generosity of spirit this crisis has brought out in people. By looking at the lessons learned, as well as the unexpected gifts this forced global pause has brought us, we’re able to make some sense of what we’ve experienced and to think about the legacy 2020 will leave with us. 

We aren’t naïve enough to imagine that with the dawning of 2021, a reset button would be pushed and all would return to normal in either our professional or personal lives. We know that there’ll be new challenges to face and obstacles to overcome. “The next normal” has been a theme carried through the conversations between Demian, Anita and the over 50 industry leaders who’ve generously served as our Executives in Residence through Season 1 and 2 of RISE. There’s no going ‘back to normal’ and the best we can do is anticipate, prepare and rebuild the various sectors of our industry together, as we go through each next phase of normal. 

 

WE’RE IN THIS TOGETHER

Through Season 1 and 2 there’s always been a strong sense that we’re in this together, and that the only way forward is through honestly and openly finding common solutions to uncommon challenges. Our circumstances aren’t all alike, and in the same way that we as individuals will adjust and recover differently, so too will the various sectors of our industry. 

But one thing we at RISE know to be true is that we are largely co-dependent and so the best way forward is through continuing to work together, within our and other industry sectors as well as with governments to maintain the forward momentum and progress through this crisis. This spirit and energy of an industry united in seeking solutions is one of the uplifting legacies of 2020 that we at RISE love!

 

LEGACIES

Whilst sadly, the legacy of COVID19 for the foreseeable future will include unemployment lines, tighter purse strings, and continued travel restrictions, it has also left us a renewed appreciation for the need to create a stronger, more united, and more sustainable future for our industry, and our wider global community.

Leaders who have lived through previous crises, be they personal or professional, know this to be true. They, like all of us, also see COVID19 as a chance for renewed appreciation of the little things – those increasingly precious commodities like time together with loved ones – especially our elderly loves; of community spirit, and professional creativity and collaboration. They remind us of the importance of checking in on our own well-being, of caring for ourselves so that we’re able to take care of others and our businesses. Creating together, a positive, hopeful legacy, is now our opportunity.

Legacy will be the topic of our first episode of RISE: SEASON 3. Going ‘live’ on January 18th 2021. Our Executives in Residence are two iconic, incredible leaders who have decades and generations of industry experience. We’ll hear their stories and perspectives on businesses which have prevailed and continue to do so through generations of challenge and opportunity.

The team at RISE are excited for this new year and the fresh hopes and opportunities it brings, and grateful for our RISE Community; formed in response to a global crisis, and continuing to share, support and prevail. 

RISE: SEASON 3 will continue this forward momentum, as we move beyond crisis, to resolution, reconstruction and re-inspiration in 2021. See you there! Same time, same place, and now bi-weekly. 

 

Register here to catch us live, or to watch previous episodes. Thank you for being an invaluable part of RISE.