Post-Pandemic Travel and Tourism, with Don Welsh

Episode 182

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A seasoned tourism executive with more than 35 years of experience in the industry, Don Welsh serves as the President and CEO of Destinations International. Since joining the association in March 2016, Welsh has implemented a strategic realignment for the association through a renewed commitment to focus on member needs to deliver the resources members have determined to be essential to the success of their organizations. Prior to joining Destinations International, Welsh served as the President and CEO of Choose Chicago. He also held the CEO position at the Indianapolis Convention & Visitors Association and the Seattle Convention & Visitors Bureau. Prior to joining the destination marketing industry, Welsh served as senior vice president for Westin Hotels at its corporate headquarters, and has held senior leadership positions in sales and marketing for Westin Hotels and Resorts, The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company and the MGM Grand Hotel/Casino in Las Vegas. On our podcast, we are joined by Don Welsh, the President and CEO of Destinations International. In our discussion, Don shares his perspective on the impact the pandemic is having on the tourism industry. He explains the current and future role of DMOs, the funding challenges they are facing, and how the pandemic has equalized the tourism industry.

What You Will Learn in This Episode:

  • Don’s perspective on the impact the pandemic is having on the tourism industry
  • The roles of DMOs now and how they will change in the future
  • The funding challenges DMOs are facing amidst the pandemic
  • How the global pandemic has equalized the tourism industry
  • How the relevance of tourism organizations has been exposed
  • The concept of community shared-value and Don’s new project, Destination Next
  • How DMOs are being incorporated into reopening discussions
  • How smaller destinations are approaching their reopening
  • Why DMOs and the brands they uphold are instrumental in getting tourism moving again

The Equalizer of Travel and Tourism

Don Welsh is a veteran of travel and tourism, and he currently serves as the President and CEO of Destinations International. Throughout his career, he has accrued more than thirty-five years of experience in our industry, holding several senior leadership positions with international brands like Westin Hotels and Resorts, The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company, and the MGM Grand Hotel/Casino. On our podcast, Don shares his perspective on the impact the pandemic is having on the tourism industry. He discusses the current and future role of DMOs, the funding challenges DMOs are facing amidst the global pandemic, and how the pandemic has equalized the tourism industry.

A Universal Flattening of Our Industry

Don’s organization represents more than six hundred CVBs and DMOs in over thirteen countries. So the good news is, he has a pretty strong grasp on what’s happening in travel and tourism around the world. Unlike localized natural disasters and other disruptive events that are unique to each DMO, this pandemic has been an equalizer. It has been a universal flattening of our industry, and from South America to Europe, we are all experiencing a similar struggle. It has been a time of transformation, where historic highs for airlines, restaurants, and hotels were tanked almost overnight. We quickly learned what it’s like to not have that, and DMOs are adapting as a result.

More Relevant Than Ever

For a long time, DMOs have made up an invisible industry. They operate quietly in the background doing significant work that often goes unacknowledged. But the relevance of tourism organizations in our communities has been exposed by the global pandemic. The concept of community shared-value ensures there is an alignment with tourism organizations and their local communities. To achieve sustainable tourism down the road, we need to promote the same level of understanding and awareness for DMOs as we do for other organizations in the community. A significant evolution must take place to respond to changes presented by the pandemic, and with the oversight of organizations like Destinations International, the process is already underway.

Nicole Mahoney: 00:24 Hello listeners, this is Nicole Mahoney, host of destination on the left. Welcome to this week’s episode with another brilliant guest, Don Welsh, president and CEO of destinations international. Our conversation covers a lot about the pandemic, including the impact is having on the tourism industry. The roles that deemos are playing now and we’ll be playing in the future and the funding challenges that demos are facing. We also discussed how the pandemic has equalized the tourism industry and shine the light on the relevance of tourism to a communities economy. A little more about done. He is a seasoned tourism executive with more than 35 years of experience in the industry since joining destinations international. In March, 2016 Dan has implemented a strategic realignment for the association through a renewed commitment to focus on member needs, delivering the resources members have determined to be essential to the success of their organization. Prior to joining destinations international, Don served as the president and CEO of choose Chicago. He has also held the CEO position at the Indianapolis convention and visitors association and the Seattle convention and visitors Bureau.

Nicole Mahoney: 01:36 Prior to joining the destination marketing industry, Don served as senior vice president for Western hotels and its corporate headquarters and has also held senior leadership positions in sales and marketing for Western hotels and resorts, the Ritz Carlton hotel company and the MGM grand hotel casino in Las Vegas. I know you will gain a lot from this conversation. Don, thank you so much for joining us here on destination on the left. I am so excited for this conversation. I know you are going to have a lot of insight to offer to our audience as we are making our way through their new normal and uh, hopefully a post pandemic world. Uh, but before we get to that, can you share a little bit about your story in your own words for our listeners? I find it gives so much more context to the conversation.

Don Welsh: 02:27 That’d be my pleasure. First of all, Nicole, nice to be with you. And a yes, if you probably looked at my resume you’d say, okay, he’s, he’s probably a tourism or travel gypsy. I’ve had the good fortune from even in high school in college and post-college. Then in three of the core segments that are important. I think tourism, I started on the airline side, uh, with United airlines and got involved in, uh,

Don Welsh: 02:51 being one of the founding members of horizon airlines out in the West coast in Seattle. And then when, uh, the from the airline industry, I had the good fortune of being hired by Western hotels, which was headquartered in Seattle. So I, um, I had the good fortune of coming into the marketing department for Western for many years. Then the hotels, uh, in, uh, in, in Hawaii, believe it or not, to cut my teeth there. And then I went to the work for the Ritz Carlton hotel company and had the good fortune and a little bit over three years to be in the corporate team out of Atlanta and, uh, was, uh, part of the opening of 18 hotels. And, uh, then after that, I, um, I then had the good fortune of working a little bit and the casino business and I for MGM is the head of marketing and sales there for brief two year period.

Don Welsh: 03:44 And then I had the opportunity to sort of get into our industry and that was the, um, the CVB business. I started my career in Seattle where had the opportunity to be the president CEO there for about five years. And then I went to Indianapolis, uh, okay. For about two and a half, almost three years before going into Chicago as the, uh, as the CEO there and working with, uh, uh, mayor Emanuel and, uh, and governor rounder to create what is called now choose Chicago. And then, uh, I was asked to, uh, throw my name in the hat for this great opportunity. Yeah. At the time of his DMAI. Yeah. Which has now transitioned to, um, destinations international. And that is a brief summary of about 40 plus years. But I feel honored to do what I do today. And, uh, that’s a little bit about my background.

Nicole Mahoney: 04:39 That was, that was a really great brief summary, but, uh, it definitely did paint a good picture for our listeners. And I love that you referred to it as a travel gypsy. It sounds like you got the bug and he just couldn’t stop. Right.

Don Welsh: 04:54 Unfortunately, I have a very flexible and patient wife and, uh, and along the way we have, uh, four beautiful boaters. So yes, it’s in there and I think it’s become part of our family as well.

Nicole Mahoney: 05:04 Now, Dan, on our pre-interview chat, I did not know that you had four daughters. I knew you had kids, but I also have four daughters, so we have that in common. We can share some stories.

Don Welsh: 05:14 Yeah, I’m sure. Yes, we can. I’m sure we can. Absolutely.

Nicole Mahoney: 05:19 Um, but when I, what I love about your background, it’s really kind of that the foundation of this show. And that is that I think by having that understanding of so many different segments and you had the airlines, the hotels, even the casinos, um, and then the CVBs, it just gives you such a broader perspective in terms of how the entire, you know, tourism ecosystem really works. Yeah. I just think that that’s really, really great that you have that. Why not?

Don Welsh: 05:51 I think it has been a benefit, particularly in this show really. I think it’s a benefit in any job because you realize the, whether you’re involved in running a city or a state organization, um, I, I think it sort of helps to understand, you know, the, the operational side, the investment side. Clearly from an airline standpoint, it’s huge. When a hotel gets built or, uh, the renovation then how brands represent makeup of the city. Uh, I think it’s helped me in, I’m understanding that as well, strictly at the destination, but now at BI.

Nicole Mahoney: 06:23 Yeah, absolutely. So Dan, we’re having this conversation here at the end of may 20, 20 and, uh, we are in the middle of the COBIT 19 world pandemic. These are very interesting times.

Nicole Mahoney: 06:38 Um, and we’re also at a point in this cycle where some States communities are starting to reopen. So I really want to take the opportunity with you on the show. We do like to talk about creativity and collaboration and I know there’s going to be a lot of that, uh, in terms of what we talk about. Um, but I’d like to take the opportunity to hear from you. Mmm. Let’s start first with what are the challenges? Mmm. You know, that you’re seeing, especially in the DMO space, um, you know, as we’re working through this pandemic.

Don Welsh: 07:14 Yeah. Clearly we have the good fortune. Uh, I may maybe neglected to say at the beginning, our organization now represents over 600 the CVB destination organizations in 13 countries. So the good news is we have a fairly good connection with what’s taking place around the world. And I will say pro, uh, prior to this pandemic, um, you know, every destination unfortunately has some challenges they’ve experienced individually and that could be a natural disaster. That could be an action, terrorism. And, uh, there has been recovery plans for all of those. But I would say this pan, it’s global. Fantastic. It has been the equalizer. It has been a flattening, Mmm. Of our industry across the world and the same issues that we’re facing in Europe and the same issues that are facing Latin America in China and elsewhere. Um, clearly some, uh, element of conductivity. It’s the same thing we’re facing, uh, in North America and in particularly in the U S right now as we, since many of our members are our us space. But it has been a, it’s been a time with transformation. Uh, you know, it has been a time when not when our industry had been probably, I’m going to say anywhere we had an eight to 10 year run of having historic performance, whether it’s an hotel occupancy or rev, our growth increase or you know, restaurant performance. And certainly airlines running at 90 plus load factors became the norm. Okay. Quickly understood with this pandemic what it’s like for that to go away quickly and rapidly and leave such a void.

Nicole Mahoney: 08:44 Yeah, absolutely. Absolutely. Um, I think that, I really appreciate how you talked about this being an equalizer and the flattening of the,

Don Welsh: 08:56 one of the things that I’ve been curious about is, um, there have been a lot of conversations prior to this pandemic about how our industry is yeah. And how GMOs, um, role might be changing. I see kind of seen or I’m wondering if you’ve seen and acceleration in terms of the evolution of the DMO and kind of the role that they’re playing now. Yes, there are. And I, and I believe this even goes back to maybe a larger challenging issue and that is I think for a long time, a lot of tourism organizations, whatever you want to call it, tourist organization, destination marketing organization, convention Bureau, sort of, it’s one in the same depending upon maybe what audience you’re communicating with. I think for a long time, our industry has been a quiet industry, has been one that in many communities you assume the tourism is always going to happen.

Don Welsh: 09:50 And you assume that convention, uh, that is filling a city and people with their name tags on that just happened by itself. I, but I believe right now what has truly been exposed is the relevance of tourism organizations, uh, for their community. Whether you’re a small community and you have a membership based organization that deals with restaurants and attractions and things that are unique. Your city, you know, to a city like Las Vegas or London. Mmm. But you realize it at the end of the day there has been this quiet orchestra behind the scenes, uh, that has been managing these multiple tourism segments quietly and effectively. And again, when things are good, you sort of take it for granted. Uh, you know, it wasn’t too long ago, probably 90 days ago in many cities around the world. We were talking about over tourism. Uh, we were talking about, uh, what could be done to scale back tourism.

Don Welsh: 10:44 And, um, right now that that is certainly a sustainable tourism is going to be something that’s critical as we go forward. But yes, the, um, there has been a lot of work in the last couple of years started by um, uh, Jack Johnson who is our chief advocacy officer in the areas called community shared value in a community shared value is to make sure that there was an alignment between that tourism organization and it’s community. Were you treated in the same understanding and awareness other organizations were in your community? Did you, are you, is it understood that the taxes that you generate in your community go back to your community? And they may not only fund the tourism efforts, but they’re also many cases going to support, uh, essential services, first responders. We know a lot of cities right now. Yeah. Portions of the tax go to support, uh, fire and police and public safety and uh, those kinds of, um, you know, dramatic increase, decreases rather, uh, in revenues and contribution are also standing out. So to answer your question, yes, the, uh, there is going to be a change in terms of the composition of organizations being done by our partner at next factor. [inaudible] Paul, we met, uh, at, uh, Vancouver. It was one of the most, uh, authoritative leaders in this area and it really is picking up on the word it’s been done, uh, for the many years called destination next. This is just almost the evolution of what’s got to take place within destinations based on these significant changes posts post the pandemic.

Nicole Mahoney: 12:14 And let’s talk about that a little bit. What, what does destination next to look like or what does being a, a community shared value look like, do you think? As we’re, as we, you know, move through this and,

Don Welsh: 12:28 and come into a new normal? Well, you know, I, I know a lot of Jack’s work was done when we all worked together and I should say right now, my, my core team, we’ve been together, uh, in many cases, nine going on 10 years together. Cause when, uh, we were in Chicago, many of us made the move. Uh, and they joined me in Washington DC with destinations international and a lot of the work it was done really began formulating Chicago. [inaudible] we understood that, um, when, when a, when a destination organization froze up the large numbers, we had the good fortune of working closely with mayor Emanuel in Chicago and you know, he was, he was always about, okay, let’s, let’s, let’s talk about the millions of people that came and let’s talk about the great tax revenues that benefited the community. But what we started losing, we started losing in many cases, you know, the local alderman or a city council member, the had a specific region.

Don Welsh: 13:23 And at the end of the day they were happy for Chicago, but they wanted to know what it did for their neighborhood. They wanted to know, um, how tourism was a value to a small chef owned restaurant, uh, in their community. And we began this whole alignment with then taking, clearly people are going to major and then a city, they’re going to go to the main visible known areas. But what I think tourism organizations have begun doing to align this community shared value. They began aligning it with, um, not only the big macro numbers, people, visitors taxes, but they also began aligning it with what it could do for local neighborhoods. How, um, things could be potentially aligned with, uh, communities that wanted to, uh, focused on from an educational standpoint to bring young men and women in high school, potentially into the Syria. And how do you, how do you, uh, aligned with organizations from both, uh, the private and public education too?

Don Welsh: 14:20 Make tourism and the great offerings we have from a job standpoint available? Uh, it, it began aligning further between the civic community because I think for the most part, the tourism industry does a great job. Or talking to the tourism industry, you know, we, we know our PR sells pretty well. We know the mission, but yeah, I use a simple triangle, but talk about this. And when there is a, a connection between the civic humidity, the election leader community and the tourists and candida magic captains. Um, we talked earlier about a seat at the table. And what we’re seeing in the evolution now of organization next, it is an understanding and the community wide as to why a tourism organization is a relevant, Mmm, incredibly important asset of that community from the being. By the way, also owning the brand. You know, at the end of the day, um, the tourism organization is really a response for the brand that that city, uh, most city has got out of marketing years ago. And again, that has been shifted to the responsibility of destination organizations. So, um, when you look at Las Vegas, when you look at it, the, uh, Toronto, when you look at the, um, Mexico city or elsewhere,

Don Welsh: 15:32 that is really being run by the destination organizations. So they’re representing the people that live and work in that community. So it is a multi-part plan, which then also gets down to the, uh, the understanding in that community on the relevance of, uh, far beyond just the economic impact aligning with the ideology of the community and, uh, and what the community stands for because everybody is different.

Nicole Mahoney: 15:54 Yeah, absolutely. And are, are you seeing, um, I actually, I’m seeing this, uh, up here in upstate New York, I am seeing, uh, tourism and, um, GMOs being pulled into the table as we are working on reopening plans and re-imagining, you know, uh, how visitation might happen in the community. Are you seeing that across all of your, your members and you know, all of the countries that you’re speaking with? Are you seeing tourism pulled into the table now?

Don Welsh: 16:28 We are. We are, and I think it’s fair to save that and there may be a few anomalies, but, uh, I believe after seeing the research we’ve seen both domestically and globally, but, um, the way tourism will come back and respect the communities will be, it will be a slow start. It will be with, with people feeling comfortable and when the medical and scientific community gets again more definitive in terms of closer to the vaccine or we feel like, and I respect the community case, the cases of covert 19, they’re declining to the point where I can go out and I feel safe with myself and I feel safe with my family. And the restaurants that I’ve always gone to and visited, I feel good about going and visiting locally and there they almost become concentric circles and uh, the concentric circles will be local.

Don Welsh: 17:15 So that’s why we work closely with our organizations to make sure, you know, hotels and restaurants and attractions in the community. That’s where I think the first bounce the business will happen because we’ve also seen that, uh, within the U S state, I think 55% of people now in the last couple of weeks, I said, okay, I am thinking about that vacation again, but I’m going to get in my car for the most part. Yeah. I am going to be driving somewhere probably a little bit over 500 miles and I’m going to go probably to the places I feel comfortable, whether it’s a beach amount. Hm. Mmm. We’re seeing that the national parks and not surprising an outdoor space is incredibly important people. But again, I think it’s going to start locally then regionally, then nationally and internationally. And along the way, we do know that meetings and events will happen again.

Don Welsh: 18:04 Again the same criteria of safety and security will be held there. But we’re seeing a lot of the meetings and events really gone into Q four. Mmm. And I also think the 2021 is going to be the year of full recovery in the meeting section. Uh, the, the area that’s the biggest concern thus right now is that, uh, until the airlines sort of understanding what will be the social distancing at airports and the consistency amongst the airlines. And I think they’re getting that every day. Uh, what will be the level of service. I flew a long haul a couple of weeks ago, a week ago. And it’s a really different experience now. You know, getting on the airplane with basement Assan and limited, um, a service on even long haul flights. I think that’s going to be the new norm as well as what’s going to take place through airports. So I do think national travel will be a little bit, yeah, the slower on their recovery. And, um, what we really think we’ll probably take a couple of years to get back will be on the international. And, uh, so that’s, that’s the way data is looking at it right now. And I think our research says that people are beginning to travel now locally.

Nicole Mahoney: 19:07 Yeah, absolutely. I think that’s a great way to look at it and to think about it in terms of concentric circles, a local, regional, Mmm. National, international. I’m curious down, you’ve, you mentioned, uh, you know, several destination examples, but I’m curious when you mentioned the outdoor assets in the mountains or the national parks or the beaches, Mmm. What about those destinations that might’ve been traditionally smaller destinations, lots of dense destinations. Are you seeing opportunities for them? Um, what, what kinds of things are you hearing from those smaller destinations in terms of how they’re thinking about the reopening?

Don Welsh: 19:47 Oh, yes. And I think right now that that same concentric circle will apply whether you’re a city of, you know, 10,000 people or whether you’re 10 million people. I do think that, uh, to some advantage, you know, we have, um, we have a large percentage. We have actually a committee and a task force, uh, that is the small market kind of scores. And the same things that apply to the ownership and responsibility, whether you’re a destination organization that has three people working for it, you’re going to have the same responsibilities of, uh, of owning the brand and becoming that, uh, that unbiased true information for your destination in terms of what is a, what is safe, what is open. And I, I failed to mention that, you know, the, um, in addition to being the keeper of the brand for that community, uh, all tourism organizations really begin to be the, the, the, the true data, the empirical data that’s important when one wants to travel, uh, it is not going to rest on the private side to do that.

Don Welsh: 20:48 It will rest within that destination organization to, on behalf of the city and its partners. When you want information about what really is relevant and timely, it will be probably through the destination organization CVB website. Yeah, that’s a great point. And really need to be thinking about that. Right. And how, where, where does that live in their website and how, how is information shared on the website? Actually, because to your point, even about the airport example, uh, I think there are different things that people are seeking out right now is they’re thinking about those travel plans and they might not be what you traditionally would have, Mmm. Would have had on a CVB website, correct? Correct. Yeah. And I think air services, um, I don’t know whether we, we chatted about that, but one of the things we’ve been watching closely Mmm, is clearly the way the airlines and based on data we’ve seen, it’s hard to believe that 16,000 plus airplanes that were flying just 90 days ago had been parked around the world.

Don Welsh: 21:46 And, uh, that is about 62% of the global fleet. And we know right now, you know, as an example, four friends in Canada, air Canada, you know, for a low 20,000 people last week. And we know that, um, airlines play a critical pivotal role in terms of the health of most communities and from a business standpoint as well as of course, uh, tourism and travel. But, um, we’re really watching closely the way the airlines get back up. Just some type of capacity cause in any cities that has been dramatically, dramatically decreased. Yeah, absolutely. So you mentioned the furloughed it, uh, the furloughed employees and uh, I did want to talk a little bit about some of the funding challenges that is, are having, um, and kind of what you’re seeing in terms of a challenge and then perhaps you can talk a little bit about maybe some future solutions or different funding mechanisms that you might be seeing or people are talking about.

Don Welsh: 22:48 Yeah, that, I’m glad you brought that up because there was a lot of great things we were talking earlier that, um, you know, even even in these really challenging situations, we continue to see brilliant thinking. We continue to see such incredible collaboration, innovation, you know, seeing how destination organizations have stepped up in their community. But in many cases they’re doing it as we are. You know, we have 31 employees a little bit over two months ago and we were the global organization now or down to 16. And I think if you see some of the same similar cuts you’re seeing most destinations around the world, uh, with radical radical furloughs and the, it is a, it then gets down to available workload and resources and financially if I believe, um, okay, I’m talking specifically now. The U S destinations had, um, uh, our members. We have 479 us members and 97% of those are C6 or state funded organizations.

Don Welsh: 23:48 And unfortunately right now the cold, the, the current carrier, Zack precludes a us from having access to that. Uh, he had put a caveat in that if you have over 500 employees and you were C6 when you’re eligible, uh, but the reality is that, um, there’s no destination organization CVP with over 500 employees. So we’ve been working really, really hard with um, U S travel in their messaging. We began a really aggressive letter writing campaign to all of the members of the house and Senate, uh, last week talking about the relevance of what their organizations do by state. And, uh, it’s going to be critical because unless our organizations, I’m going to say about 25%, have some, some uh, infusion of uh, whether it’s alone or um, one time of money. Uh, you’ll see many organizations before too, um, make further reductions or potentially have to be re be restructured in the next side seat. 60 to 90 days.

Nicole Mahoney: 24:47 Yeah. And that uh, you know, based on what we were just talking about in terms of you know, the role that GMOs and tourism are playing and owning the brand and you know, being the keeper of the brand and sharing that true data and

Don Welsh: 25:03 really

Nicole Mahoney: 25:03 I think going to be so instrumental to getting people moving again and trusting. Right.

Don Welsh: 25:08 Absolutely. And I would say right now that, uh, the more diminished an organization is, the Greenlight does become more prevalent and hopefully the days and weeks ahead, there will be half that there will have to be an organization that’s going to bring together that concentric circles I talked about. The city is back up and running from a tourism standpoint, which we know is vital and the economic recovery for restaurants are attractions that we know that are being hurt the most. So it really is a catch 22 on us. We do get funding.

Nicole Mahoney: 25:40 Yeah, absolutely. So you mentioned how much smart thinking, I think in you said innovation and collaboration and, and smart ideas that you’re seeing. Um, can you share maybe some of the,

Don Welsh: 25:55 Mmm. Some of the ways that you’re seeing if you have specifics

Nicole Mahoney: 25:59 of destinations that are being creative, that are, you know, really pivoting and supporting, you know, their mission and their communities perhaps a new ways.

Don Welsh: 26:09 Yeah, there’s a, there’s a couple of them that stand out to me. One is in Dallas, Texas where, um, where the Dallas CVB has taken the leadership. Two, it started probably, uh, uh, almost about, probably six weeks ago, realizing that, uh, in many cases, um, frontline workers, uh, you know, doctors, nurses, people that were, uh, that were, uh, not able to go to their homes, uh, we’d be concerned, so potentially impacted effecting their families, were finding out that people were sleeping in their cars. They were never, never leave in the hospitals or whatever. And uh, so they actually then did an outreach with local hotels and they came up with a, uh, with a and allotment of complimentary rooms. And then they did something which was very inexpensive for the frontline worker to be able to go to a hotel, get a little rest and shower and the in the environment of a safe hotel room, uh, so they can continue to do their job.

Don Welsh: 27:05 So that was just another local outreach. The complemented what some of the bigger hotel brands that as well. Um, one thing that was really appealing to us, which I know many have picked up on the, uh, our friends in Denver, um, started a program with a big partner called simple view. And we realized that the take out was going to be, it’s probably going to be our new norm for restaurants. So they aligned with the hotel community, excuse me, the restaurant community and Denver. And I think they started off with a combo, a hundred restaurants that were aggregated on the Denver CVB website that, uh, then that’s grown to I believe, over 850 or 900 restaurants by cuisine. Who’s doing what in terms of whether it’s curbside, whether it’s, uh, you know, the takeout menu with delivery options. Any, and again, this was just something that was put together probably in about a month, excuse me, probably about two weeks.

Don Welsh: 27:58 And that became, you know, replicated in many cities because we know that, yeah, it was tough to find central source if you wanted to, you know, mix up your, um, your, your food options. So there was just a couple examples, but, um, I’d say everybody is adapting to what they can do in their respect and doing it quickly and efficiently. And as I said to you, everybody in our industry is great about sharing information. There is nothing, it is not and either posted or on a webinar and it becomes so much real time where people can say, wow, potentially can help my community.

Nicole Mahoney: 28:33 Yeah, absolutely. I think, uh, I think that’s fantastic to be able to share those ideas and to replicate them. Um, and really the sharing of ideas is what helps speed up, you know, um, some of these responses, right? So the sharing of the Denver idea, for example, you know, it helps speed up someone else who might be thinking about how do I solve for this?

Don Welsh: 28:54 Yeah. We’re, we’re fortunate we work with some really, really great partners in companies and, uh, you know, they, there are many are in the area of research and data and, and metrics and those types of things. And it’s, it’s amazing how they used their core business and they’ve pivoted so quickly to, uh, some more or less, uh, adapt and provide services, um, for the, for the industry, you know, whether it’s sediment studies saying, okay, when are people gonna feel comfortable traveling again? And you know, we have, you know, the bell curve. Where are we as a correlation between infection rate when people were starting to say, I’m even thinking about travel and I’m pleased to say probably in the last couple of weeks people began saying, okay, we’ve gone through probably a bulk of, hopefully the infections are coming down. I’m like humidity, uh, my, my family and I are safe. We can start venturing out beyond our R M yeah. Our place, our house and getting into the community. But this is all research data, the things we’re talking about right now, our real time they’re taking place and that we’re updating people. It’s not daily, at least weekly.

Nicole Mahoney: 29:59 Yeah. I think that’s such a great point too. And I love that you brought that up because you’re right. It’s more than just, um, you know, the deemos that are pivoting and helping. It’s everyone that’s kind of digging in in our industry and, and figuring out what they have, uh, that can help the most. And, and that, that research and data and those metrics have been incredible. And there’s, there’s a lot of it out there. Uh, and I agree with you. I think that’s

Don Welsh: 30:23 the ambulance.

Nicole Mahoney: 30:25 And that that really can help.

Don Welsh: 30:27 Yeah.

Nicole Mahoney: 30:28 You know, demos and communities plan and understand what, what’s happening.

Don Welsh: 30:32 Yeah. It’s been a, I think it’s been a great source and by the way, our webinars, you started off, this is not the world we’ve been in, so we’ve become quite proficient in webinars and zoom and WebEx and everything else. But it has really collapsed the ability to communicate with our partners very frequently. And it seems like every time we have a webinar where we think it’s going to be the best, it seems like the one the following week that the contents being discussed is, is equally as relevant and it’s changing. And I don’t see this really changing, uh, even when things get right back to a bit of a normal, I always think right now we will supplement, uh, the live with the, the ability to do things from a virtual staff.

Nicole Mahoney: 31:14 That’s really interesting. I, I, I think that that’s so great because you’re right, the live, you know, we have these, creates a time that we come together and we share those ideas and, and we’re building our relationships. But to have these things in the middle of that and to keep the conversation going, I can see how important that’s going to be, especially as we navigate through, you know, the next probably 18 months or so. Right? I mean, it’s just really going to be a tremendous learning curve for all of us as we come out of this.

Don Welsh: 31:45 Without a doubt. You’re right. I think you, you, you probably pick the timeframe that’s gonna. I think for the remainder of 20 we are going to get back into defining what is the new norm and then I think it’s going to take probably a 12 to 18 months to implement the new norm. And the same thing as we all had to adapt to after nine 11 when it came to traveling and the creation of TSA and things that didn’t exist prior to that. You know, we, we become, we’re a very adaptable, uh, society and I think you’ve got some brilliant minds right now, not only on the medical and scientific side, but it’s brought, it’s brought together every industry organization to collaborate together. And, uh, but I do think you’re going to start seeing some really good statistics and standards rolling out that will factor in, uh, health and safety at the foremost. So it’s a challenging, but it’s driving some great collaborations.

Nicole Mahoney: 32:39 Absolutely. So, Dan, before, uh, before we close out, I wanted to just get your perspective on, um, you know, let’s fast forward 18 months from now and, uh, you know, you, you just kind of actually gave us a good, a good example in nine 11, right? So out of nine 11, some really good thinking and some new ways that the

Don Welsh: 33:05 at the industry operates

Nicole Mahoney: 33:08 and even better, right? Um, travel world. And so from your perspective, 18 months from now, you know, our DMS have worked through some of these funding issues because I know that that’s critical, right? In the short term, we need to make sure these organizations can be there, uh, to serve their communities. What, what does the new DMO

Don Welsh: 33:30 like?

Nicole Mahoney: 33:31 Are they, you know, turning into more of this community shared value? What, what do you kind of see in the future, which I know is putting you on the spot because a lot of us can’t, but just kind of trying to keep that forward thinking mindset, right. Um, where we’re headed. What are you staying?

Don Welsh: 33:48 We see quite a few things and again, I think we have, in many cases, I would say that a lot of the things that will become the new norm for, for CVB, we’re already in place. Um, but I do think it back to my triangle analogy, making sure that somehow there was a real understanding on the role. Yeah. Destination organizations play, uh, in their community and that’s civic leaders who in many cases have the, I have the ears of, uh, of elected leaders and the influencers in the community understand the pivotal role that tourism or a meeting do not take place by itself. That when somebody decides to come into a restaurant and they’ve got their name tag on and they’re part of a convention or meeting, I do think when things are really good, it’s just human nature. [inaudible] for the last eight or 10 years, we, we, I think to some degree, uh, we’ve sort of taken this industry for granted and the, and the billions and billions of dollars that it represents as well as jobs.

Don Welsh: 34:44 But I do think at the end of the day, the, the community shared value, peace will be talked about. It’s just going to just creating just a greater understanding of, uh, of the role. Convention bureaus is whatever we want to call them, play for their community. And it’s not just about numbers. Yeah. Taxes, uh, jobs are incredibly important, but, but how does that organization make sure the, uh, the brand that, that community is aligned with, how it’s being presented. And I also think that at the end right now, it’s so pivotal that, uh, that as we get into this, um, plans phased reopening. And again, it doesn’t matter whether you’re a smaller destination to a large, well known, uh, global brand, it’s going to be the same role. So, uh, those fundamentals need to be in place. It’s also going to be essential that those organizations are around and get back to the importance of funding. It’s just, and I, and again, it goes hand in hand when there’s a greater understanding of the community shared value, there will be a greater understanding that organization needs to be funded to do it, to do its work and then in a sustained fashion because it will play a greater role as we go forward. And, um, I’m proud of the work that our industry does, um, and we just need to do a better job of consistently telling our stories not only during these challenging times, but, um, when, when times are better as well.

Nicole Mahoney: 36:08 Absolutely. I, I couldn’t agree more and I think that that’s a, a really great way to sum up our conversation kind of right back where we started on the, on the community shared value, uh, and the importance of that. And so Don, I’ve, I’ve really enjoyed having you on and I thank you so much for spending time with us.

Don Welsh: 36:28 And before we,

Nicole Mahoney: 36:29 they, goodbye. Are there any final words that you’d like to share with our listeners and also I’m a little bit about DEI and where they might find you.

Don Welsh: 36:38 Sure. Uh, first of all, we are a destinations We’re in Washington DC. As I mentioned to you, the organization has been around for over a hundred years. Uh, the latest iteration took place about four years ago and they just destinations international because again, we’re very focused on aligning on the U S well, we are really the, uh, the global, so we’re a trade organization for destinations. So we’re available. We’ve got a great group of people and, uh, the work that the team is doing is incredible. And I guess the last thing I have is yes, this has been a, an incredibly different, difficult, challenging, tragic time in the history of our world. But I’ll, I’ll say what I’ve said and I probably sort of reflect. Okay. The way I’ve been fortunate to live my life. I think travel was part of the human DNA.

Don Welsh: 37:28 I don’t think it’s, uh, it’s, it’s, it’s, it’s, it’s on hiatus right now. Well deserved hiatus and break. But I do think that when, again, people feel comfortable, uh, to safely go out and feel like there are medical solutions in the event this happened. Once we get through the, um, through the, um, incredible trauma that has been inflicted worldwide, we will begin traveling again. We will begin exploring one another’s, uh, cultures and differences because I think that makes us who we are as society and it’s just probably going to take a little bit longer to maybe the international piece. But in the meantime, I think the staycations are going to be incredibly important. Uh, I, I know firsthand the importance and time this has allowed us to spend with our families. Uh, and, and I know there has been some benefit yeah. To, um, to this time together. But we do want to get out. We do want to get an exploring. And I, I feel, uh, confident that, uh, travel, will it be good? And it will rezone, but it may just take a little bit of time. Yeah, yeah. Two potential a levels. We’re in the past.

Nicole Mahoney: 38:33 Absolutely and I couldn’t, I couldn’t agree more. Thank you so much. Done. This has been a great conversation and we’ll look forward to catching up with you again.

Don Welsh: 38:42 It’s a pleasure, Nicole. Thank you for having me. Take care everybody. Thank you for listening all the way to the end of this week’s episode. This gives me a chance to tell you about our influencer ebook. It gives you the inside look at how my agency break the ice media implements influencer marketing for our tourism clients. The book goes into detail on all of the tools that we use to find, yeah, manage and measure influencers. You’ll find information on key follower benchmarks. How does that influence your channels? Getting your destination partners on board, creating itineraries, managing influencer expectations, and measuring for ROI. Does it break the ice forward slash influencers to download the full ebook that’s break the ice media forward. Slash. Influencers.

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