It would undoubtedly be a case of stating the obvious to express that the past 18 months have been stressful and difficult. We have all done our best to keep moving, focus on the future, and endure the trials of Covid with a sense of hopefulness. So how are we feeling now?
There is a good chance that your response to that question might be one word, exhausted! It has not been easy for any of us to keep our chin up and tolerate the ups and downs of the past year.
Although this is true of the entire general population, we can agree that perhaps nobody has felt the sting of uncertainty and fluctuation than those of us working in the travel and tourism industry. At least from a business perspective, we can legitimately say that few have had it more challenging than us.
Hence the discussion about resilience. We sometimes use the word to describe how an individual endures a tragedy and emerges almost unscathed. We often try and learn lessons from their experience - and with awe - we might say something like: “I don’t know how they did it”.
The answer usually involves them finding personal power and inner strength that helps them navigate the situation.
As an industry, we have been united globally with our frustration. Authorities, agencies, governments and regulators have all given mixed signals, ambiguous statements and even reversed decisions numerous times.
We have had the goalposts repeatedly moved as we looked to reopen the doors to our already anxious customers. We have struggled to maintain our teams and maintain our morale despite the negative news that has seemed unstoppable.
Even now, with vaccines available and things appearing to stabilise, we all have some lingering anxiety. We wonder about new strains and entertain countless questions that begin with the dreaded "what if?”
So, we have not only needed to be resilient until now but also to continue being resilient. But what is the secret to doing that?
Here are a few thoughts:
1) When your relationship is in trouble, experts often recommend thinking back to the time you met and why you fell in love initially. It helps put the problems aside and focuses on the essential elements of the relationship. There has never been a better time to connect emotionally with the reason you fell in love with travel and tourism.
2) When trying to motivate a team to do something difficult, it is often practical to share the vision resulting from the work. We need to remind ourselves of the families we help and the smiles we create. Connecting our daily tasks to this end game will build our resiliency.
3) Sometimes, we can improve our stamina by recognising the importance of what we do compared with what’s happening around us. The world is a mess, and wouldn’t we all agree that our consumers probably need to get away now more than ever before?
4) We cannot understate that having a peer group is vital for resiliency. As an industry, we have seen groups come together and offer support like never before. We can be proud of that, and we should continue to rely and depend on our colleagues, teams - and even competitors - as we continue forward.
This situation will eventually end, and things will return to a more normal routine. But just as an individual might emerge from a personal crisis more robust and perhaps more admired for their resilience, we too will appear more powerful as an industry.
I also believe other industries have noticed and respect us more due to our sticking together and working collectively rather than in selfish isolation.
Frank Belzer is a sales and international business development expert, based in Orlando, and is also a member of Visit Florida’s board of directors. He previously worked as senior vice president of sales for Universal Parks and Resorts.