How Long is Your Runway?

To say the last 3.5 months have been a wild ride in the world of travel is the understatement of a lifetime.

As the head of my luxury travel consortium, Matthew Upchurch, summarized recently – the travel industry was hit first, was hit the hardest, and will take the longest time to recover.

Matthew is going to appear on Squawk Box on CNBC this week, and he shared some of the info he’d gathered with our consortium.

“While the economy is in the midst of a recession, the travel industry is in a depression.” The numbers are shocking.

As Matthew notes, “travel-related job losses represent 38% of all job loss through April – nearly 10 million Americans” (and there’d be comparable numbers for Canada). Matthew also notes that “the impact of the current pandemic on the travel industry is worse than two of the most significantly devastating times in America’s history” (which also significantly impacted Canada, of course) – September 11, and the Great Depression.

As an industry, travel has been through it all – Sars, Ebola, H1N1, Zika, historic floods, terrorist attacks, apocalyptic ash clouds, etc etc – we have weathered every storm. So, I know we will get through this. This CoVid19 mess will indeed pass.

Right now, the numbers of travel declining $57 billion in the year following September 11, representing $133 billion in economic loss pales in comparison to what is being projected for this year. At an astonishing number that is 9 x that of September 11, travel spending is expected to decline $519 billion, representing $1.2 trillion in economic loss.

In 1933, during the worst year of the Great Depression, unemployment was 25%. This year, due to coronavirus pandemic, overall travel industry unemployment is 51% – which is 2 x that of the worst year of the Great Depression.

So the question everyone in travel is asking – how long is your runway?

This too shall pass. I’m not a salaried employee, and run my own business as an independent contractor. So, the past 3.5 months have certainly been hard on the bottom line – but – while I’m still hard at work canceling and rebooking holidays for clients (and losing money by the minute, but helping clients keep their travel options open for future), I’m also focusing on tomorrow. I’ve decided I just have a long runway.

This too shall pass. Perhaps like you are doing, I am taking the time to revisit my processes for clients, and how I work with them, and making it a part of my “conscious comeback” (as Jessica Upchurch of Virtuoso’s sustainability program has said).  There are things I’ve been doing all along for clients, but I’ve realized that they probably haven’t been aware of all the work that goes on in the backend. So, I’m taking the time now to put the right structures in place. The importance of having an advisor advocate on clients’ behalf has certainly moved from the background to the forefront.

This too shall pass. I’ve also taken the time to start updating my website. And while we wait for the world to start moving again, as a travel industry, we are helping clients “Dream Today, Travel Tomorrow.”  And that’s the focus I’ve taken.

It’s time now to re-imagine a new better (as Don Martinson of Natural Habitat says). A Conscious Comeback.

It’s why I’ve started doing Zoom Travel Tuesday calls with my supplier partners  – I’ve hosted Big Five Tours, and Lindblad Expeditions so far. This coming week is Quark Expeditions (sign up here )- and I’ve already lined up Silversea Cruises and some other partners.

It’s why I’ve also started doing Zoom Travel Trivia on Thursdays with Mug Up with Sheila (sign up here )

There’s exciting news ahead. I’m working with my partners at Virtuoso to have a complimentary version of the Wanderlist program available to help with your future travel planning – stay tuned for more info next week.

Have a look at my website (updates are in progress) –  And please let me know if you have any thoughts and/or suggestions for me.

And – join me for a zoom call – either with Quark this week to talk about their expeditions (and Greenland in particular) or travel trivia on Thursday.

Dream Today, Travel Tomorrow.