A small wave of “first-time-since-the-pandemic-face-to-face-and-live” conferences bringing together USA travel buyers, suppliers, DMOs and other travel and tourism industry players partly obscured the hybrid (Zoom and face-to-face in the same place) gathering of Brand USA for its regularly scheduled spring board of directors meeting.
Held just prior to the release of the last issue of INBOUND, the event marked the first time in well over a year that Brand USA leadership and staff were inside its downtown Washington, D.C. headquarters, with some 15 participants in place.
There wasn’t much discussion given over to the “back-to-business” symbolism of the session, which moved along crisply and ended within an hour. This seemed to comport with the agency’s oft-noted message since the spring of 2020 that, whenever the time would arrive—and it has—Brand USA would be ready.
Christopher Thompson, Brand USA’s president and CEO reported to the directors attending from all parts of the U.S. as well as key staff taking part on the eighth floor of 1725 Eye Street, NW, in Washington, D.C. to show that the organization and in-region representatives at key points throughout the world have indeed been ready.
“There are three basic things that we have to prove,” said Thompson. “One is that we’re ready. Two is extend that welcome mat again and reach out and let everybody know that they are welcome … and not only keeping the inspiration alive, but trying to force that inspiration into conversion.” These three are outlined, again, below.
(All dates are pending market conditions)
—Phase 1: Prove we’re ready by moving quickly into messaging. This starts August 1, and will be ongoing.
—Phase 2: “Welcome Back” phase to those seeking and interacting with BUSA. This phase begins on
October 1 and will be ongoing.
—Phase 3: This will be the “Entice and Convert” phase. It also begins October 1, and will be ongoing.
Which markets are top priority? Brand USA’s monthly consumer survey has indicated that the following four markets may be the first to return to international travel: UK, Germany, Mexico and Canada. (The UK and Germany are the top two European source markets for visitors to the United States, and Canada and Mexico are the top two source markets for overall international visitation.) The following four charts show the basic “who, what, when and where” of these four phase-one recovery markets.
Brand USA Travel Week is Back! In a sign of confidence in the future, Tracy Lanza, Brand USA’s senior vice president, integrated marketing, concluded her presentation with a brief announcement that “Travel Week 2021 will be revived! Originally held in September of 2019 in London as a Europe-USA marketplace. The 2020 edition was cancelled due to the pandemic.