A Tourist Board Rep's Work Is Never Done — Even During A Pandemic:
It doesn’t seem as if there’s time to be bored when representing a tourist board these days. Travel Courier contacted several tourist board reps to see what their days are like in the midst of the coronavirus crisis and what is quickly apparent is that they are still keeping busy, even though international travel has largely ground to a halt. So, here’s a look at what those we spoke to are doing to ensure that what they represent will be front and centre in the minds of travel agents when travel is once again in full swing.
Hong Kong Tourist Board
Technology is making Michael Lim’s life easier during this time of having to work from home, rather than his Toronto office.
Lim, who oversees the Hong Kong Tourist Board’s Canadian operation, notes he’s been working from home for over a month.
“It took some time to adjust to the new environment,” he says. “The key was to find a quiet corner in the house without interruptions. So far, so good. Keeping quite busy.”
Lim begins the morning by replying to emails, followed by a morning video call with his team to ensure all are staying safe and healthy. That’s followed by talking about business developments. Next are individual follow-up calls as needed and continuing the tourist board’s partnership outreach through emails and phone calls.
“We’ve also been in frequent communication with our head office in providing them with the latest updates on COVID-19 in Canada, along with trade, media and consumer sentiments,” Lim continues. “Head office has also conducted conference calls with us, providing an update on the tentative strategic plans moving forward. One thing I found: I’ve been able to find time to join in on webinars, hence additional learnings. The recent webinar by Baxter Media featuring Jennifer Neal from Truth & Dare was very informative and well done.”
Lim says having fewer distractions throughout the day means he’s able to accomplish quite a bit these days. Among other things, he’s been able to clean out his computer files and release a sizeable amount of storage space.
Meanwhile, Lim is urging industry colleagues to remain upbeat during what he concedes is a challenging time.
“We need to continue to be positive and full of energy as there will be lots of work when this dark cloud blows over,” he states. “We all have to remain vigilant. This will pass. The travel industry will prevail.”
Paul Larcher is still hurrying and scurrying, although his attire may be a little more casual these days.
Larcher is with VoX International, where among other things he carries the flag in this country for Tourism Australia.
“To be completely honest, I really don’t seem to have any more ‘free’ time during the work week working at home than I did prior to the stay-at-home rule coming into effect,” he says. “I get up ready to ‘go to work’ but I admit, the dress code is a tad more relaxed than it is if I’d be heading into the VoX office. Then, instead of stopping at Starbucks to get a tea in the morning in the lobby, I stop at my kitchen to grab a pot of tea and a bite of breakfast, which I then take to my den (now known as the office). Basically, I’m in the den for the duration of the day. I try to resist popping downstairs to the kitchen to roam about looking for snacks and quite often, I work through lunch. My office assistant, Eddie (my dog) gets a bit restless because he thinks because I’m home, I should be paying more attention to him, playing with him and taking him for walks more often as if it’s the weekend. Sorry pal!”
Larcher’s current tasks include keeping accounts informed of whats going on in Canada as far as changes in the travel industry are concerned by sending daily market updates. He’s also keeping engaged with tour operators and retail advisers, sending out communications, promoting online training programs, participating in Zoom meetings and “just trying to keep a positive attitude” during these trying times.
“Another thing I’m doing is planning for the future because one day, hopefully in the not too distant future, restrictions will slowly be lifted so what will we need to be doing to get back up to speed when that occurs?” Larcher continues. “What training will be required, what trade advertising and communications will need to be executed, etc. The VoX International team overall is keeping busy by participating in training sessions and learning about new marketing initiatives and ideas. We also have regular VoX Social Hours via Zoom where we raise a glass of wine (or their beverage of choice) and talk about our days, discuss anything that we’ve discovered that’s new and whether or not it would work with any of our accounts, etc. We miss seeing each other in the office so it’s a great way to stay in touch business-wise and stay socially active during this time. I hope that this ‘new normal’ doesn’t last as long as some are predicting and I trust everyone in our great industry stays well and stays connected. As they say, this too shall pass and when it does, we’ll all be ready!”
Los Cabos Tourism Board
Rodrigo Esponda is keeping his sunny outlook while in his sun-soaked destination.
Esponda, who once oversaw Mexico Tourist Board promotions in this country, now heads the tourist board in Los Cabos, among other things known for its beaches and having more than 300 rain-free days a year.
Los Cabos, like other destinations, is asking tourists not to visit during the pandemic, but Esponda says he remains “very busy. We are working hard on keeping stakeholders and media informed on the rapid changes we are seeing and working on future plans for the destination. It is challenging, I won’t lie. But we keep a positive attitude, knowing that eventually tourism will reactivate and tourists will start to travel again. It’s all part of the job. We need to rise to the occasion the best we can for an unprecedented situation.”
Esponda has little free time but the avid runner does continue with his exercise routine and spends as much time as possible with his family.
And what will Esponda’s reaction be when the coronavirus crisis ends?
“Thankful and relieved,” he says. “I’m confident that with the passion of our people and their desire to provide our guests with impeccable service we will get through and become even stronger. We will continue to work hard promoting our amazing destination around the world. We are looking forward to welcoming back tourists with open arms.”
Sana Keller and Annika Klint
Pulse Travel Marketing
Pulse Travel Marketing’s Annika Klint and Sana Keller aren’t letting the grass grow under their feet during these troubled times.
They both have been busy reaching out to clients to see if any virtual tours or inspirational messages are available to be sent via social media, which will then be shared with both trade and consumers.
“We want to continue to feed the passion for travel until the next trip is available,” Keller says. “Take Visit Denver for example.The Mile High City’s rich cultural and performing arts scenes and attractions are now available from the safety of your homes with a new online resource called Virtually Denver. The new web page and event calendar provide easy access to dozens of Denver’s top virtual museum experiences, art galleries and installations, performing arts, concerts, culinary demonstrations and even educational tools for families. Looking across the pond to the UK, Glasgow continues to inspire locals and future visitors through its arts, culture and e-learning and is offering some great virtual activities (@glasgowlife). Glasgow Museums (#glasgowmuseums) posts daily on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram so check it out and join in the fun.”
Travel Pulse Marketing has also begun building plans for its clients to develop and implement strategies to best position them for a post-coronavirus recovery, and updating clients on coronavirus in Canada so that they can build any insights into their plans.
And lest you’re wondering, a still-heavy workload doesn’t mean there’s no time for personal interests, with Klint having joined a wine club, and also focusing on personal health and wellness and spending more time in the kitchen trying out new recipes.
“I’m still pretty busy but I’m a Type-A and always on the go, running hard with kids for school and with me for work,” adds Keller. “So now, I’ve started to focus more on ‘me time’ and am consistently doing yoga, spending quality time with family, going for walks and having many ‘Zoom get-togethers’ with friends and family around the world and just enjoying a bit of downtime.”