And the news in our own industry is also cause for optimism as Roger Dow, CEO of the U.S. Travel Association, shared in his annual State of the Travel Industry address last week. In a speech delivered virtually, Dow responded to what many industry experts say will be a five-year recovery to a pre-pandemic travel economy, saying that was “far too long.” He went on to articulate the policies he believes will shorten the recovery:
- Getting a handle on COVID through vaccines and health and safety protocols.
- A national plan to build confidence in domestic travel through clear and consistent public health messaging and driving travel demand through additional economic stimulus initiatives.
- Restarting international travel through appropriate COVID testing protocols and removing international travel bans.
But with the focus on a robust recovery, let us not forget the individuals who represent the human toll of the devastation our industry suffered beginning last March. In Minneapolis alone, it is estimated that 20,000 Minneapolis residents who make their living in hospitality lost their jobs due to the economic downturn caused by the pandemic and perpetuated by the impact of the unrest following the tragic death of George Floyd.
We may paint the picture and describe the destination experience in the sales and marketing process, but it is the men and women who are the servers, housekeepers, kitchen staff, baggage handlers, delivery and taxi drivers, and so many more who have the responsibility for keeping our promises.
One way to support and encourage these industry professionals is to nominate one or more of them for our Hospitality Hero award. Meet Minneapolis has had this program in place for nearly a decade but paused it during the pandemic. We believe now is the right time to reintroduce the award program and acknowledge those who are deserving of the recognition. Hospitality Hero nominees should:
- Showcase Minneapolis in a positive light.
- Go the extra mile in providing service to visitors, enhancing the visitors’ experiences and desire to return to Minneapolis.
- Demonstrate pride in and commitment to Minneapolis’ hospitality industry.
There are other ways to thank these heroes. Those of us with the resources and responsibility to do so must continue to work to reopen our industry and retain existing business while securing new business so that jobs can be preserved. We can also take the time to thank a frontline worker when we encounter one.
The role of our frontline workers is more important than ever as individual and group business returns to our city. Authentic and attentive experiences are more important than ever, and it is these workers who will leave the lasting impression on our visitors. Please join me in thanking them!