Connect Travel’s most recent international tour operator virtual roundtable proved to be one of the most popular panels yet in Connect’s ongoing series of discussions in a format that includes an interactive feature in which viewers ask questions and panelists respond.
Shari Bailey, vice president, Connect Travel and general manager, Connect Travel events, moderated the session.
Panelists included: Dave Cecco, director of product, WestJet Vacations; Jeff Karnes, executive vice president, New World Travel; Michael Marzano, president, FM Tours; and Ernesto Tecco, group manager/business partner, 5A Incentive Planners.
Key Takeaways from the roundtable included the following:
—There is a growing sense that that there is little chance that any business of consequence will be Key transacted for what is left of 2020 and that programs will have to be retooled for 2021.
—Domestic and independent travel will likely lead any recovery.
Safety is a top concern of travelers across the range of sectors that comprise the overall inbound market.
—We should expect new protocols to be in put in place that stress clean and safe travel experiences—from the moment someone leaves for the USA, through all activities in the country, and upon returning home.
—Bus groups will be smaller as passengers, as distancing and other factors become a part of the travel equation.
—Hotels are going to have to be flexible on price.
Jeff Karnes: “From home in Long Beach California, I been working remotely for a couple months. I go into the office occasionally to water the plants and collect the mail. We’re doing what we can do right now we’re staying in touch with our clients … We’re trying to gauge a sense of when things are going to start to return. We want to be ready when things are at that point.”
Michael Marzano: “I would say that, on a scale of one to ten, I would put FM tours right around a six. (Because of furloughs) we’re missing some of our team.”
Ernesto Tecco: “Generally our task right now is to work on our emergency plan. The most important thing facing us is to deal with the new protocols that they are coming up right now.”
Dave Cecco: “I think our biggest issues are the government restrictions that are in place in Canada and, of course, the things that come with that. So, we’ve got a lot to work through before we see the market start to rebound. We’re looking forward to some of those restrictions being lifted so that we can move forward and push ahead.”
To view and listen to a recording of this roundtable, visit: https://connecttravel.com/webinars/connect-with-tour-operators/