INSPIRING UNITY THROUGH HEARTBROKEN COMMUNTIY

The global hospitality community has always been one of exceptional leaders – people who have dedicated their lives to taking care of, protecting, serving, and celebrating others.

Why? Because hospitality has always been about welcoming people into one’s home, whether ‘home’ is a B&B, a major hotel, a resort, a private property, a boutique establishment or a shared space. Hospitality is ultimately about home. True hospitality leadership is, and always will be, about honouring this truth.

Just days ago the global travel community suffered an incredible loss. With great shock and sadness, news spread – news that caused us all to look twice, check sources, question its truth, and quietly pray it was not so. At a time of endless hardship, heartache and helplessness for millions across the globe, news of the passing of Arne Sorenson was haunting. Following a long period of struggle with pancreatic cancer it was his time to rest.

The news was something that no one was ready for because he was a man that no one in the international hospitality community was ready to let go. Immediately messages of grieving were passed around the world from community to community: across hospitality, across C-Suite peers, across friends. Shock and sadness eclipsed protocol and policy. Outreaches were in every direction as the hospitality community in every part of the world felt a sense of loss. Whether one had at one time shaken his hand, or simply heard of his life’s work, all were shaken.

Remarkable about Arne was not purely his example of excellence as the President and CEO of Marriott International – the company’s first leader not Marriott blood-family, but the way in which he created an international, thousands-strong family across Marriott. Surprisingly for many, the bonds of grief formed by his passing reached beyond the business to touch the wider global hospitality community, stretching to the highest levels, across colleagues and competitors alike. Spontaneous, unfiltered statements of sadness were penned by our industry’s elite, its elders, its everyman and everywoman. As divided as we have all been this past year – grounded as a result of borders, skies and doors being forced closed – and often working in parallel yet apart towards safe, secure, sustainable restart of our essential sector, news of the loss of a pillar of our community found us, in an instance, united.

In this moment of pause, prayer, for for many, pangs of loss, it feels a powerful message has been whispered, one that will hopefully be a part of the DNA of our shared Travel & Tourism future: future leadership is not purely about monitoring and managing the numbers, nor the traditional industry metrics. Leadership in the future is about protecting, promoting and passionately uniting those in the hospitality community – the visitors and the visited, the leaders and the loved ones – building meaningful, quantitatively and qualitatively measurable bonds through our life’s work in our essential industry, recognising that through these times of historical challenge, ‘essential’ has become an adjective to describe fundamental value and worth.

Whether hotel industry competitors, colleagues, former classmates or future confidantes, Arne inspired all in the Travel, Tourism and Hospitality sector to recognise that, first and foremost, hospitality is about taking care of one. He bravely stood before the cameras in 2020’s early days of the pandemic to inspire courage, compassion, hope and unity: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X6af2lVfDDk.

Today, a year on, he has done it once more. https://twitter.com/marriottintl/status/1362920882990174209

Arne Sorenson has left a legacy of exemplary leadership not only as a hospitality professional and practitioner, but as a person. In leaving our community, he opened our shared community heart. He opened our ability to spontaneously reach out to one another and simply say, without agenda, without any intended outcome, “I’m sorry for your loss”. This has been, it feels, a parting gift, for at this time when our incredible industry continues to suffer inexplicable loss, the ability to look around and see who still cares, is invaluable.

Rest well, fine Sir. x

 

Copyright: ANITA MENDIRATTA 2021

 

 

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. 

 

 

 

 

BRIEF BREATHS OF COVID-HEALING

In a year+ of being intensely locked up and locked in by a global pandemic,

a year+ in which we’ve been so tightly constricted in our connections to one another,

the radius of our world dramatically reduced,

restricted,

relying on regulations for recalibration,

repeatedly having to realign expectations,

it is almost impossible to notice how tightly the windows of our mind and heart are shut.

Out of necessity,

out of responsibility,

out of fear,

out of habit,

we have turned our worlds into what we see around us,

in our homes,

in our bubbles,

on our screens,

all under our control,

based on the best advice given by leaders leading our collective efforts to take control of COVID19, taking us all to a place of global health, global security and global stability.

With all travel stopped, our only movement being that around our limited local lifestyles, familiar sights, sounds, scents, sanitized touches and even tases once savoured lose their intensity. Without us knowing, without us even noticing.

And then it happens – a safely and securely locked window is opened just a crack. A window you were told to lock, and keep locked, until deemed safe to re-open. Until trustworthy to be opened. A dry, creaking sounds give way to silence. Only a heartbeat can be heard, a heart that beats stronger and stronger and louder as clear, fresh, pure, light, cool air brushes past.

 

You are free.

You travel.

Not next door, not nearby. Somewhere new. Briefly, very briefly. But you are away. Regulations respected. Protocols observed. Experience expectations adjusted.

Briefly away.

After a long, painful blur of months blending into countless months, suddenly moment counts.

Every sense is alive.

How incredible it is to realise, after being constricted of breathing for month after month after month, that the window is open, even just that little crack.

How almost disturbing it is when you in  fresh air. Then and only then is the staleness recognised.

As the sound of birds is carried in on the breeze, only then is the thickness of silence broken.

Only in looking out to the big, wide open, blue sky are the boundaries of the ceiling visible.

Only in touching clean, clear waters is the dryness felt.

As our world opens up once more – slowly, cautiously, for some even fearfully – in tandem it will pry open a part of our minds and hearts that has, over time, over trauma, that has been tightly shut out of necessity, out of self-protection, out of even, for some, boredom.

In so doing , it will open up the flow of tears.

 

In so many ways, travel, which is often seen as being recreational, is actually medicinal.

Why? Because it helps heal.

It helps heal our minds from suffering limitations in creativity and inspiration, vision and imagination.

It helps break patterns of intensity of busy-ness, waves of intense anxiety, overfocus on the micro.

It heals us emotionally – widening our perspective, rebooting our spirit of optimism, reigniting our confidence, re-strengthening our hope.

It heals us psychologically by, giving us a sense of humility of honor and a blessing.

And it heals us socially, reconnecting us to the wider, kinder world around us.

Suddenly, strangely yet so beautifully, all that matters is to be able to feel balance, feel freshness, feel freedom, feel gratitude.

Suddenly, for the first time after a long, hard, challenging, exhausting, trying time, layers of self-protection and self-preservation begin to melt.

Suddenly every cell feels the same sensation: freedom.

This time, our shared world, is a new creation yet to behold.

Who we are, how this COVID19 chapter of our lives has impacted who we are, is yet to be understood.

Herein lies the profound value of the gift of travel – the blessing of being able to touch the world once more:

The beauty of travel will be, as always, not simply about going out and discovering the world.

It is being able to stand still in the world and re-discovering oneself.

 

Copyright: ANITA MENDIRATTA 2021

 

 

 

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. 

 

AS MIDNIGHT NEARS PLEASE ALLOW TEARS TO FALL

We’re almost there!!

With Out Of Office notifications now activated, menorahs being carefully packed away, wrapping paper being collected from the base of Christmas trees, another round of turkey sandwiches being prepared from feasty left-overs, and playful off-line pauses being enjoyed before countdowns begin towards New Year’s Eve, a new excitement is building – a feisty one.

The close of 2020 is soooo close!

The sleep-count is shrinking. A new wave is growing, one reaching millions across the globe. It’s not the latest COVID-19 wave, though sadly that too is also moving swiftly, widely, mercilessly once more, putting strain on global healthcare systems and frontliners – new strains starting to emerge and travel.

This particular wave is spreading through a hashtag: #FU2020. Quickly, with variations of cursing. The hashtag is sharing millions upon millions of reasons to raise a fist to the sky, and a glass at midnight on 31 12 2020, for all 2020 has been for us all. The editing filter has been dropped.

First articulation of frustration and fiery sentiment started to appear as our calendars reached the Winter Solstice of 2020: “The shortest day of the longest ____ year of our lives”, one posting read. There was something almost permission-granting about the overt admission of just how long, hard, and hope-challenging 2020 has been.

Growing momentum of growling is impossible to ignore. Humorous messages and memes capture all that has been missed out on this year, all across the world, the agnostic, aching nature of this unnatural year out there for all to see.

The bubbling anger, angst and anxiousness for 2020 to be ‘done’ is so very real, so raw. In the final seconds of 2020 countdown there will be, no doubt, swearing accompanying singing – laughter a needed release after long months needing to stay strong, stay hopeful, hold on. Sparks of the confidence and courage reignited to take us into 2021.

But please, please just stop – please don’t just rush into 2021.

Not just yet…not until the tears have been allowed to fall.

As tempting as it is to write off 2020, we can’t – our hearts might not be ready.

Midnight will come, and we will hopefully be together with loves ones – those we can within the rules and regulations. But before that moment happens, before looking forward, please just wait a moment.

Be alone.

Be still.

Be brave.

Look back…

Allow your heart to breathe, to feel the year now closing. To cry.

2020 has been redefining, rewiring, really, really hard. For everyone.

There is no competition: everyone has suffered, everyone is grieving in some way.

Loved ones, loved moments, livelihoods, chances of a lifetime,

Gone.

No one has escaped 2020 unscathed:

Children or grown-ups,

Friends or foes,

Near or far,

No one.

Which is why before we raise our glasses to 2021 we need to let the 2020 tears fall.

Healthy tears – quiet, thoughtful, cleansing, healing tears.

Tears from as far back as the first months of 2020 when shock first hit, when we knew something was scary-wrong, when doors and borders and businesses and skies and hearts started to close.

Tears marking the changing of the seasons, all other signs of time passing feeling a blur.

Tears tightly holding in the emotions felt when bad news hit, and then hit again, and then hit again.

Tears of simply being tired, tired of the uncertainty, tired of the endlessness, tired of being tired.

The wounds of 2020 are deep, the scars will take decades to erase, if ever.

But the healing must start. Now. As our minds register the milestone of the close of 2020.

Now is a time for healing.

In time, at some point in time, our storytelling will select memories of this time, sifting through the hurt and heartache to find ways of creating a hopeful, helpful narrative. That time will come.

But for now, right here and right now is what matters.

May the gift you give yourself in the final hours of 2020 be the chance to allow those waiting-patiently tears to rise, be released, and quietly run down your cheek in a way that releases your heart of all of the holding-on that has been so needed each day of this year.

Whatever is ahead in 2021, 2020 will soon be done.

We’re almost there.

Make a wish….x

 

 

 

 

 

 

Copyright: ANITA MENDIRATTA 2020

 

 

 

 

 

IN TAKING, COVID-19 HAS GIVEN

Tomorrow will be December.

A new month – the final month of what was to be a new year: 2020, unlocking all of the hope and possibility, confidence and certainty of a new decade. Little did we know what 2020 would bring, how locked in we would all be, not just physically…and how grateful we would be for it to end.

As we look to close 2020, understandably wishing to forget so much that has happened – the horror, the heartache, the losses, the longings – moving too quickly into 2021 would be missing the point. It feels it would be such a waste to have it as a chapter in the history books with the pages left blank. As hard as it is to find the words to describe 2020, or as risky as it would be to put the words in writing for fear of their heat burning through the pages, they must be written.

Why? Because to leave the pages blank would be to leave 2020 unfinished in its messages, its meaning and its memories worth remembering.

Think about it……..

What if “2020” had not happened?

What if 2020 was simply the year that followed 2019.

Where would we be?

What would we be doing?

Who would we be seeing….and not?

What would we be valuing?

Just when we thought we had it all, all under control all by ourselves, Mother Nature made it very clear who is really in charge. And what she felt was needing to be truly valued.

As soon as 2020 began the dominoes started to fall, first indications coming in January that there was trouble with this thing called the Coronavirus, now what we know as COVID-19. As it started to creep across the world from East to West borders started to shut, airline started to ground. We knew something was wrong, something was seriously wrong.

For years and years, as one blessed to be travelling over 200 days/annum with an aerial view of the world, 2020 has been a year lived, viewed, through a zoom lens. My last travels before the world shut down were mid-March – Miami for Board meetings, a full moon trying to calm stormy skies as flights were being cancelled. It was time to get home, quickly. Looking through photographs of this year a feeling of awe emerges seeing just how many images there were watching the world close up – the world of other little creatures, whether it be squirrels, swans, geese, bees, bugs, whatever it might be. And for the first time really appreciating the magic of being in one place.

It’s been a challenging year, no doubt. Milestones missed, marriages missed, memorials missed, loved ones now lost are so missed, life’s work for many is no more. Never should these moments be moved on from without pause for prayer.

Thankfully, those I love have been safe – near, far, wherever they may have been grounded. I am very blessed that my business has been safe – work more intense and purposeful than I have ever known in my two decades of operation. Every day has been as humbling as it has been exhausting, AM&A’s singular focus being ensuring no one feels alone in facing the trauma of 2020. My AM&A girls have been absolutely incredible – we have been nonstop, operating as a compass and an anxiety sponge for our Clients as the global Travel & Tourism was brought to its knees like never in its history, and it has a long, long way to go before momentum comes close to 2019 levels of travel (latest estimate is only 2024). 98% of our work that we’re doing has been from within in the eye of the storm, moving through layers of crisis: the pandemic, its resulting economic crisis, the unlocking of mental health crisis – helping clients, helping partners, helping people through, trying to make sense of what in the world is going on. Our role, our impact, our sense blessing, has been vividly clear every single day. For this reason, month after month we have given back, as much as we can, because we can.

As with all, the year has been lived in the main on-line. While geo-forced apart, like everyone worldwide, 2020 has meant hundreds and hundreds of hours on-air, our world through a small screen.Thank goodness for those spinning satellites in the sky keeping us all connected.

Ans so, as we look at the end of 2020, there’s not much more I can say other than simply this: I am thankful. I am thankful for what we have. I am thankful for those who have been spared. I am thankful for what’s been created from this time. As I have said hundreds of times this year: “There is NO going back to normal – there is no ‘back’ and there certainly is no ‘normal'” The value and values of every day have shifted. 2020 has taken much, and yet it has also given.

May 2021 bring a new hope:

  • a stronger awareness of how we need each other more profoundly than we ever imagined,
  • a stronger appreciation for the world around us,
  • a stronger commitment to actively support its wellness – naturally, socially, culturally, spiritually and economically,
  • and a stronger sense of blessings for simply being ‘safe”,

And may we carry into the year(s) ahead of us that it really is so important to stop and smell the roses….and see the swan-babies grow, feed the squirrels, and rescue the ladybugs….before boarding a next flight. x

 

Copyright: ANITA MENDIRATTA 2020

 

 

 

 

TAMING THE ROARING (20)20s

As we near the beginning of November – awed that we are into the countdown to the end of the year, bewildered by the blur behind us – it is impossible to not pause and think of all that has been.

2020 is not over yet, but still, who could have known that the roaring ‘20s would come with such a fierce bite!

This year has taken us all by surprise. Globally grounded, it has kept us in a state of disconnectedness in so many ways, regardless of how our virtual world operating, organising and other e-social skills have strengthened.

Since the beginning, as fear spread as quickly as the virus from East to West, the world became united in a state of shock. Together we have transitioned through 2020, month after month, wondering how long will this last, how severe will be the losses of lives and livelihoods, how we will possibly get back on our feet again – especially as a member of the global Travel & Tourism community that has been brought to its knees.

COVID-19 stopped us. Logistically and emotionally. Initial closing of businesses, borders and skies forced us to look carefully at the worlds in which we operated – what we valued deeply, what values we held dear. With dramatic restrictions on our mobility, the radius of our lives decreasing like never universally experienced before this generation, we have been forced to restructure our worlds, blur our lines (if not erase completely), rethinking the role of work, the role of play, the role of family, the role of friends, the time we have for each other, the space that we have for ourselves.

Ultimately 2020 has been a defining line of text of this generation. Mother Nature, fed-up with how poorly we were taking care of her world, upset with how we were focusing on our own needs at the cost of hers, forced us all to stop, sent us back to our rooms to think about what we had done wrong. We were not to be let out until we had figured out how we could do better –  we were going to build forward better.

So, how are we going to create a world that is more caring of not just ourselves, but of our communities of our countries and over our environment around us? Before 2020 we talked about sustainability. In the main the term was used, at best, as a strategic pillar of business and government strategies. At a minimum it was a strategic footnote. But did we really respect it for what it meant, past, present and future? Do we now?

Now it is THE priority.

With our world being grounded we have seen, finally, the need to recognise the definition as so much more than simply ‘green’. ‘Sustainability’ stretches across all dimensions of lives and livelihoods: economic sustainability, cultural sustainability, spiritual sustainability, social sustainability…and environmental sustainability. It is about ensuring we do not put ourselves in a position of erosion, extinction, bankruptcy, nothingness. It is about sustaining survival. Simple

The bottom line is quadruple bottom line. ‘Sustainability’ is a call to action.

How then do we look back the world we are leaving in 2020? And look forward to the one ahead in 2021? Looking back is not enough. Nor looking forward. Creating a sustainable future demands that we look into the mirror. It has been remarkable to see how now, just days before country after country in the northern hemisphere goes into the second wave of COVID-19 with second rounds of lockdowns, and just days before election day begins in the United States of America, many of us look at the challenge ahead with nervousness in our hearts, untrusting of the outcomes. Crisis, a next one, may be just around the corner.

This year has exposed very vividly the difference in our wiring – how our brains process crisis, and how our hearts and bodies respond thereafter. And that’s okay. People respond differently to crisis. People respond differently to opportunity. People respond differently to risk. People respond differently to joy.

Through each passing day, month, COVID-19 phase of 2020, we are all in a situation where we are responding differently, together. All we know for certain is that uncertainty is ahead of us. It is not about political uncertainty, social uncertainty, economic uncertainty. As our countries work through the pandemic and its impact, closing down country after country, it is about uncertainty at a humanitarian level.

Are we able to take care of each other, together, equally, for the long run?

As we look ahead, as shared earlier, this call to action has become a defining element of not just this year, but this generation. We have been so blessed to have had so much for so long. In 2020 we have been forced to stop and think: are we ready for the world ahead of us as active participants, not just admiring passengers?

Now is the time, and the opportunity, for all of us to step up, masks on, ready to create a stronger, more united, more genuinely grateful tomorrow.

2020 has roared, exposing the ferocity of its bite. This is our time to roar back. For as beautifully expressed by Benito Mussolini: “It is better to live one day as a lion than 100 years as a lamb.”

Copyright: ANITA MENDIRATTA 2020

 

 

 

CONNECTING IN OUR COVID-19 WORLD: IT’S ALL ABOUT THE EYES

We live in a world without smiles. At least in 2020.

Why? Because we live in a COVID-19 world of masks. Masks, protecting one another, in a year of a pandemic that is defining our generation, even though we’re still trying to define what exactly it is and how exactly it is going to impact us.

It has not been easy getting used to living in a world without smiles, especially considering how dearly we have needed smiles this year – smiles to provide comfort, smiles to provide calm, smiles to show compassion, smiles to show we care. But in our quest to care by covering up, we lose our smiles.

To remove smiles from daily life is to remove sunshine. Always there, even is cracking through heavy clouds overhead, the comfort of the sun’s presence sets a mood. There is always reason to look up.

In the first days and weeks of 2020 as COVID-19 spread across the globe, masks began to appear. Rapidly. Regulations, whether by choice or by mandate, differing though they may be country to country, became a growing presence. Some plain, some patterned, some creative expressions of personality, all were symbols of growing fears around an invisible, life and lifestyle changing phenomena. For most, the thought of a pandemic was a concept beyond all comprehension. The ability to protect oneself was beyond anything familiar. We all needed to take cover. Including covering up.

And so masks began to appear as clouds overhead only grew heavier and heavier, skies rapidly filling with trepidation, storms brewing with uncertainty around the disasters ahead. Doors, borders, skies all closed, human connection was blocked.

As time has passed, the block has become the norm. What we thought, hoped, was just a few passing months of management of this new challenge to our shared world has become a crisis defining our year.  Possibly even longer. More and more masks surround us, more and more smiles have disappeared.

With this natural, omnipresent form of emotional connection covered, with our expressions of care, love, joy, excitement, gratitude, compassion, consideration and concern covered, how are we to communicate? How are we to remain hopeful?

A new language has emerged, a new channel for communication: our eyes.

It’s all about the eyes.

Especially in these still fragile times. Like smiles, eyes have become a universal form of expression, a way of sharing, immediately, one’s mindset, a doorway into one’s thoughts.

The eyes reveal far more. When we were able to see smiles, we may never have appreciated the power of the eyes. In these COVID19 times when awareness of others is so important, eyes reveal fear, they reveal friendliness. With fatigue and frustration increasingly becoming a part of daily restrictions to life as we once knew it, choosing to ease off of caution rather than keep a mask on or keep a safe distance, eyes can reveal flippancy, and they can reveal forgetfulness.

To travel once again after so many months grounded is to see, feel, and appreciate, the power of the eyes.

As slowly our world is reopening, tourism cautiously re-starting, it is impossible to not notice the different look in the eyes of strangers, travellers, and the eyes of those being travelled to. From airports to airlines, taxi drivers to hotels, it’s all in the eyes. Whoever it is, it is the eyes that now speak.

And in those eyes, one gets a whole new understanding of the COVID-19 world in which we live, and in which we are trying to travel. Communication of the eyes has become one that we rely on to be able to trust. And as expressed by the Secretary General of the UNWTO, “Trust is the new currency”.

Trust. All of it is channelled through the eyes. There are few other ways of communicating that sense of “I will take care of me to take care of you.”

This is critical as we continue to try to make sense of so much that remains changing, rapidly. From a travel perspective, these changes have been in many places and for many people, painfully, the opening and then quickly closing of borders, hotels, restaurants, minds – lives and livelihoods changed in a moment.

How do we make sense of it all in the world of travel? At least in the next 12 months, we need to recognise that the language of the eyes is one that we need to rely onto be able to reconnect with the world, recognising that people in the world are reconnecting with their own world. The lack of a smile does not mean the lack of feeling.

For millions around us, their eyes are filled with fear – their lives and their livelihoods being taken away because of this invisible pandemic that has hit every single one of the 7.9 billion people in the world, right between the eyes, and in the heart.

In our hearts, through our eyes, we need to ensure we do not lose sight of the need to remain compassionate towards others. As hard as these times are, as hard as it can be thinking beyond the “I” to consider the “we” and the “them”, we need to appreciate that with so much around us continuing to be challenging,  and changing – all of this scary – we still have a long time until this is all over.

There is a reason why we are all familiar with the expression: “The eyes are the mirror to the soul.” In these times of unparalleled crisis, because this invisible, agnostic, inescapable virus puts everyone at risk, everyone needs everyone. As confident and courageous and cocooned as we may think we are, our eyes reveal how we need the consideration and compassion of others to maintain stamina to see the end of this generation-defining time.

Ultimately the warmth and wonder of our world comes through connecting with people. 2020’s #COVID19-defined year has unlocked a new way of communicating, a new way of connecting – giving us a new reason to look up. x

 

Copyright: ANITA MENDIRATTA 2020