After a trying year for event professionals. members of PCMA’s 20 in Their Twenties class of 2021 have proven resilience is a key skill in their toolkit. Bree Nidds, CTA, Vice President of Sales at Discover Lehigh Valley in Lehigh Valley, Pennsylvania, shares her thoughts about how she sees the business events industry changing as a result of the pandemic.
What has this year of disruption taught you about the industry?
While I knew the tourism and travel industry was big, this year of disruption has taught me that the industry is huge. I now view travel and tourism as a giant umbrella industry with many facets. As a destination management organization, we are charged with strengthening our destination’s economy through tourism, which in its simplest form means inspiring experiences that convert to overnight stays at occupancy tax-collecting entities. The year of great disruption has taught us how to further our mission through unity within our own community. The industry will no longer see a stark separation between tourism development, economic development, and chambers of commerce. Communities will align together with a similar voice to achieve their respective missions, leading to a stronger, unified message.
How do you see the industry changing as a result of the pandemic?
The industry as a whole will have a strengthened disaster readiness plan. Disasters strike in all forms, and there will be measures and contingency plans in place for the next disruption, whatever it may be. Moreover, the industry will have stronger relationships with government officials on the local, statewide, national, and international levels. Many of these relationships were initiated as a result of the pandemic, and I foresee them being fostered and strengthened moving forward. DMOs) will no longer be known for having brick-and-mortar visitor centers and printing a visitor guide each year. As proven during the pandemic, DMOs will continue to be a resource and education center for information related to safety protocols, local business, and advocacy efforts for the tourism industry.
What new skills has the pandemic led you to pursue?
Advocacy. The pandemic has led me to pursue the skill of advocating on behalf of my destination, and the tourism and travel industry as a whole. I have learned that effective advocacy starts with fact-based information, a clear goal, and a measurable plan for executing a communication strategy to local residents, businesses, and government agencies. Advocacy is not something that takes place once a year, or only in the midst of a pandemic. It should be a perpetual pillar in any destination management organization.