We kicked off this the year guest speaking at MMU’s The Institute of Travel and Tourism ‘Future You’ event, joined by the next generation of tourism cohorts, I was sharing my (nearly) 30 years in travel and tourism which started with an NVQ  and like many I worked in a hotel as well as having bar and retail jobs to earn my keep. 

I loved connecting with people, making their experience a little brighter and I was lucky enough to combine my love for this and with marketing to do what I think is one of the best jobs in the world. Sure, it throws a few curve balls now and again but that’s what makes it interesting!

Being honest though I thought I had seen it all,  when I started Eurostar  had just launched and  Easyjet  was born, travel wasn’t just a luxury anymore, but a necessity, moving beyond an annual  2 week holiday  with an obligatory postcard (that took twenty minutes to choose) being sent back home.

 9-11 created caution as whilst technology made travel easier, competition became fiercer than ever with new destinations such as Prague, Budapest and Warsaw popping up on the map, smart phones and Google Maps meant journeys could be hand held and spontaneously planned and Instagram made David Bailey’s out of all of us – inspiring others to not just visit but experience places.

 Whilst financial crisis meant the staycation and a resurgence in camping – in the form of glamping – that became popular in 2007, just as the world’s first 7 star luxury hotel was opening.

International Tourist Arrivals surpassed 1 billion and Brexit happened (we know it’s not been mentioned in a while), Sustainability and Over-tourism were on the most recent agendas. Destinations were showing every sign of continuing to innovate and adapt to the needs of travellers and the market generally.

 The world of travel is an industry that over the last few years transformed but in the last few months, weeks, days and hours has changed beyond all recognition; from a world at its most open to one that is on complete lock down.

On Tuesday, with a heavy heart, we closed the doors of our Manchester HQ but our hearts, minds and ears remain open albeit from home, (as we all find our new normal), we reflect, but we remember  travel and tourism is one of the most important industries in the world.

 This isn’t because of its huge economic value but because it improves communication, enables us to appreciate what we have, to grow as communities together whilst expanding our knowledge and understanding.  

We must work together and remain alert to innovation and change, listen to the consumer, operators and businesses and aim to develop hands-on capabilities in marketing.

 How can we use technology for good? How can we support the consumer, support the destination, avoid people visiting now but encourage for the future, (but not too many at time and in a sustainable way) how can we reap the benefits and build better communities?

What is clear is that those that adapt to change will win and in order to make the most of these destinations or opportunities, marketeer must be an expert in their field and recommend the right product to the right audience. This change will be driven by understanding the market, product offering, your core audiences marketing and platforms to reach them.