“Today we are in a position to formally announce that Brand USA Travel Week Europe will not be held as a face-to-face exchange in London. And that our inaugural Brand USA Travel Week India will be postponed until 2021,” said Brand USA President and CEO Chris Thompson, who also announced that the organization is “Bringing forward a brand-new digital platform—Brand USA Global Marketplace. This will allow us to continue those really important face-to-face relationships with our travel trade partners around the world, while we’re dealing with the inability to meet face-to-face.”
Global Marketplace Launches Next Month: In explaining the logic of the new venture, said Tom Garzilli, Brand USA’s chief marketing officer, the agency is “trying to score a couple of challenges.”
“First, and the biggest one,” he told those attending the board meeting, “our partners have left the international marketing space, understandably, to focus on local recovery in the crisis.”
“At some point soon, hopefully later in the fall, they will be wanting to head back into the international market, and it’s on us at Brand USA to develop a re-entry vehicle so that we can all return globally,” Garzilli added, noting that the new Brand USA Global Marketplace is “one that is dynamic, ever growing and ever improving.”
Starts with Europe: Starting in late September, The Brand USA Global Marketplace will start in Europe, said Garzilli, “but will ultimately spread out around the world … an innovative solution which will replace inefficient, inertia-driven methods—a virtual version of Travel Week 2020 and beyond.”
He emphasized that the new Global Marketplace “will be efficient, lowering the barriers for participation, which really just means that every partner no matter how small or large, no matter the budget, will be able to participate.
Essentially the new platform will allow for the creation of a virtual version of Travel Week for 2020 … “so that, at the end of the day, even when we return to face-face meetings, a virtual solution will remain part of the experience going forward,” noted Garzilli.
The fully virtual platform, will also:
—Be available for buyers and sellers 24 hours a day, seven days a week indefinitely, once it is launched in late September.
—Have content that is evergreen, but will offer opportunities to refresh.
—An “Activities” location that can be accessed through a number of rooms off of the main lobby, which will include partner pavilions for both exhibitors and buyers (destinations, attractions, hotels, airlines, tour operators, etc.)
—A “Main Stage” for programming enrichment
—Virtual “partner pods”—each pod, which can be used individually and be re-purposed for a U.S. destination or attraction pod that will feature logo branding, clickable links, virtual business card drop off and pick-up, and the ability to schedule or request an appointment.
Observed Garzilli, “Once it is built it will have both international and, potentially, domestic applications. And at some point, the platform will be used or consumer shows.”
He said that the first event will be the virtual Brand USA Travel Week Europe Oct. 26-30, explaining that “It will replace our live Travel Week plan and it will be the first of many events that we will hold on the Marketplace.”
The Lost Year: Perhaps the most sobering notice in the Brand USA board meeting was this line-and-a-half displayed during the presentation of Brand USA’s financial update: “FY 2021 Headwinds: Recovery date of international travel is unknown, we are currently anticipating recover to begin April 1, 2021.”