November 2020

It’s November and therefore time for Thanksgiving. From a tourism point of view you may ask what do we have to be thankful for this year, but without too much deep thinking I can think of many things.

Up here on the Northern Gulf Coast, we did have an initial lock down for the pandemic which caused much suffering within the tourism and hospitality industry. However, after the gradual opening up of the area, visitors reassessed their travel plans and many decided that rather than travel far afield, a road trip or short flight to our area was just what they needed.  The result was a surprisingly good summer season for many hotels, vacation rentals, restaurants and attractions.  

The rise in home schooling and working from home has encouraged an extension of our traditional tourist seasons.  Some of my contacts have experienced almost record levels of business for September and October.  Forward bookings look good too.

When business is normally good, many companies tend to keep doing what they’ve always done, working on the ‘if it isn’t broken, don’t fix it’ principal. The result can be that we don’t always look at ways to improve, or don’t look for alternative ways of operating.  Maybe we also ignore the chance to diversify our businesses or look for new markets or customers.  Certainly the events of 2020 have served as an incentive to examine all these options.  It’s unfortunately true that some companies have been unable to take advantage of such opportunities, but believe me an equal number, maybe more, have made significant changes.  It may take a while for the benefits to be fully realized, but I’m sure they will come.

Looking at specific examples we’ve seen the pause in conference business has resulted in hotels converting (perhaps temporarily) business centers and conference rooms into individual ‘vacation working’ or home schooling areas.  Restaurants have expanded outdoor seating areas. They’ve also introduced e-menus that diners can access on their phones by scanning a bar code.  That has resulted in savings of not having to print menus as well as the ability to update quickly and allow customers to order in advance.

Airlines have brought forward the replacement of older, less efficient airplanes with modern environmentally friendly planes that are able to fly long distances, point to point, rather than going via hub airports.  That’s all good for the the planet and the traveler.

Tourists have realized that using a travel agent or travel advisor can offer some benefits to doing it all yourself.  I know that my friends in that part of the business have suffered during the pandemic and indeed for some years previously, but many are reporting significant upticks in business.

From my own point of view, I’ve used the current pause in travel to look back on travel shows on TV, re-read favorite travel books and plan for the future. I hope you have had that chance too.  Travel is not just about the destination. It’s about the journey and that includes the planning. It also includes looking back on past trips to decide what you enjoyed, what you didn’t, what worked and what you’d change next trip. That’s all for which to be thankful.

The original Pilgrims gave thanks for their first year here in The Americas. Not because that year had been easy – it certainly was not easy. But they gave thanks for the good things. Thankful for what they’d learned and how they planned to progress.  Thanksgiving is a rare holiday. It gives an opportunity to consider the silver linings that exist in the majority of clouds.

Happy Thanksgiving.