Last week, the board of directors of Brand USA held its final meeting of the calendar year—but also its first meeting of the new Fiscal Year 2021. Because of the damage wrought by the COVID-19 virus, Brand USA’s directors and senior staff, like every other professional in the U.S. travel and tourism industry, had a sense that good news—really good news—was possible for the first time since the virus began laying waste to the industry early this year.
The possibility that a vaccination for the COVID-19 might soon be available to at least part of the U.S. and global populations definitely had an impact on the mood and hope of the remote board members gathering in front of terminals throughout the country.
“I’d have to say that the recent news about a vaccine is certainly, I think, better than anticipated,” said Chris Thompson, the organization’s president and CEO. “It potentially moves its impact of getting on top of the pandemic and restoring confidence both within the country and around the world maybe a quarter sooner than we had planned.”
As has every other organization in the industry, Brand USA has had to make do with less (the table at the end of this article sketches out the presentation of Don Richardson, Brand USA’s chief financial officer).
Alluding to its need to make do with less, Thompson said, “There was a deliberate attempt to scale back in activities and operations, but I can tell you that, in getting ready for this meeting. it’s been a really busy time for us, these past three months. It really had to do with a lot of the front-end loaded activity that is going to allow us, in our state of readiness, to still remain relevant.”
Tracy Lanza, senior vice president, integrated marketing, told board members “It is our intent deploy a strategy of reset and go. That’s what we really want to do. We want to be able to pick up and go when the time is right.” (Check out the extensive details in Lanza’s presentation here.)
Brand USA Marketplace Update: It has launched! Driven by the global pandemic to go virtual, Brand USA last month kickstarted its Brand USA Marketplace.
Synchronized, as it was, to increase awareness of the (virtual) Brand USA Travel Week Europe, which took place Oct. 26-29 and had a heavy program of presentations and networking opportunities), the new, “always open” marketplace is performing well and, it is hoped, should grow steadily in the future. Said Thompson to potential users in a message that was a part of a program segment on the Marketplace: “The only way it’s going to reach its potential? It’s going to require your ongoing support, your ongoing engagement, your ongoing feedback.”
Meanwhile, the second Travel Week Europe 2020 (the first edition was held last year in London) registered some encouraging numbers, some of which follow:
Other Numbers on the Brand USA Travel Week Europe, 2020:
• 750—Total number of attendees
• 17—Keynotes, enrichment sessions and market updates
• 2,600-plus—one-on-one, pre-scheduled appointments
• 24—Live networking sessions
Still Available: Video Market & Research Updates (approximately 30 minutes long) given by in-country industry experts.
• Market Updates. These cover: Emerging Markets; France, Germany & Austria; Ireland; Italy; The Netherlands; Spain; Switzerland; and the UK.
• Research Updates: These include sessions on Europe; France; Germany; and the UK.
Some Exhibitor Survey Results
—a 99 percent of respondents said that they found Brand USA Global Marketplace helpful in achieving their goals for Brand USA Travel Week Europe 2020.
—91 percent of respondents said that they were satisfied with Brand USA Global Market Place.
—90 percent of respondents said that they were satisfied with Brand USA Travel Week Europe 2020.
—On a scale of 1-10:
• How likely are you to attend Travel Week Europe in the Future? (8.7)
•How likely are you to recommend Brand USA Travel Week Europe to others? (8.5)
• How likely are you to recommend building a pod on Brand USA Global Market Place to others? (8.0)
Some Exhibitor Survey Results
—97 percent of respondents said that they round Brand USA Global Marketplace helpful in achieving their goals for Brand USA Travel Week Europe 2020.
—95 percent of respondents said that they were satisfied with Brand USA Global Marketplace.
—96 percent of respondents said that they were satisfied with Brand USA Travel Week Europe.
—On a scale of 1-10,
• How likely are you to attend Travel Weekly Europe in the Future? (8.8)
• How likely are you to recommend Travel Week Europe to others? (8.6)
Now, let’s get back to live: The next meet-in-person version of Brand USA’s Travel Week Europe will take place Oct. 25-29 at County Hall, London.
Key Budget Figures: A key number in the explanatory insert that Brand USA’s CFO, Don Richardson, used to discuss the organization’s budget is the $69.5 million less in total partner cash contributions and in-kind contributions than it was a year ago.