I am extremely proud of our Meet Minneapolis team in making the changes they’ve had to make during this turbulent period of time. All of us, in fact, have had to make special accommodations to conduct our daily life activities in the C-19 era. (C-19 is a shorthand term I picked up from our Meet Minneapolis chair and Carmichael Lynch Relate president, Julie Batliner.) The concept of having to shift from our normal ways of doing things because of a calamity reminds me of the Greek philosopher Plato who once opined, “Necessity is the mother of invention. A need or problem encourages creative efforts to meet the need or solve the problem.”
Such necessity and the subsequent invention that Plato references has manifested itself in the form of numerous new or expanded partnerships among individuals and institutions that all face the uncertainty brought on by C-19.
One such example is the greater camaraderie among our hotel community, which was already very collegial in their compassionate dealings with customers and their helpfulness in the community. In spite of their financial accountability to their owners and brands, our hotel community has collectively taken the long view of this crisis in working to accommodate the needs of customers. They understand the correlation between building and maintaining relationships and achieving true success.
Among the hotels that have worked to address the needs of the vulnerable and forgotten in our community is the Marriott City Center. As the mandate came down to discontinue traditional dining options, the Marriott was able to share much of its perishable food inventory with organizations like Catholic Charities and YouthLink. We are thankful to all of our partners who have stepped up and formed nontraditional alliances in a time of great need.
One of Meet Minneapolis’ strongest partners, Delta Air Lines has also formed added alliances. Delta expanded a worldwide food sharing program it already has in place with hospitals, community food banks and other organizations around the world. Those efforts have now been directed to support those working tirelessly on the front lines of the C-19 response.
Local business associations are working to exchange information and make plans to reintroduce citizens and visitors to Minneapolis and its environs. Meet Minneapolis is now meeting regularly with leaders from the Greater Minneapolis Hotel Association, Minneapolis Regional Chamber, Minneapolis Downtown Council/Downtown Improvement District, BOMA Greater Minneapolis, and Hennepin Theater Trust, so that we will be ready – once the time is right – to begin welcoming visitors and residences back to our theaters, restaurants, clubs, hotels, and other entertainment venues.
Among destination marketing organizations (DMOs) like Meet Minneapolis, there is significantly enhanced camaraderie as many new formal and informal networks have emerged to exchange market data that may have been considered proprietary in the past.
National meeting, event and tourism organizations such the U.S. Travel Association, the Association Forum, American Society of Association Executives, Destinations International, and Professional Convention Management Association, are coalescing around issues facing our industry as a whole. Such issues include how the recently passed federal stimulus plan impacts (or doesn’t impact) associations, lodging companies, cruise lines, destination marketing organizations and other stakeholders in our industry. There is also strong support for an initiative to encourage organizers of cancelled meeting to rebook in the destinations they had to cancel.
We should also acknowledge the cooperation and coordination that has occurred at federal, state and local levels to provide a strong safety net to support those who have been impacted by C-19.
I am optimistic that, once we resume normalcy, these partnerships will remain intact. Current roles and responsibilities may change as we are called on to look introspectively both professionally and personally. We have indeed seen that necessity is the mother of invention, and I am anxious to see what the next iteration of our industry looks like. Nearly 16 million U.S. travel/hospitality workers’ livelihoods are depending on it. Be safe. Be healthy. Be strong.