Destinations are finding creative ways to help their communities and industry during the disruption of meetings due to social distancing. Charles Harris, chief marketing officer and executive vice president of public affairs at Visit Anaheim, said that even though Anaheim Convention Center and Disneyland are closed, his team is strategizing ways to emerge from the setback even stronger.
“We have to be visible and accessible to community stakeholders, who are clearly struggling, showing up for them on tough days and being a resource,” he said on his LinkedIn page.
He is also collaborating with neighboring CVBs to exchange information and provide daily updates to partners who request it. “The travel and tourism industry will certainly recover from this. We have a role to play in that recovery, now and later,” he said.
After another Southern California destination, Pechanga Resort Casino, closed its doors to visitors this week, it donated nearly $100,000 worth of food to three charities that help people in need in the region. “It’s a lot of food,” said Jared Munoa, president of Pechanga Development Corporation. Supplies included dozens of 25-pound bags of onions, carrots and celery, pallets of ripe strawberries and blackberries, and thousands of pounds of cantaloupes and honeydew melons.
Also donated was milk (461 gallons) and other dairy products worth more than $10,000. “The amount of food service our team provides can be staggering… We are very glad it’s going to deserving folks who are undergoing unprecedented circumstances.”
On the opposite coast, another destination is taking a preventative approach. “We’re ready for you, when you are, with open palms” is the message Kelly Cavers, senior vice president of group sales and destination services at Discover The Palm Beaches, wants to get out. The organization has been proactively sharing information from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Florida Department of Health, including precautionary measures for travelers, via its website and social media channels.
By connecting Palm Beach County Health Department, representatives from local hotels, restaurants and entertainment venues in open dialogue, Cavers hopes to ensure that her community has the most up-to-date information and data, so everyone can respond appropriately.
At the same time, her team has been updating meeting-professional partners on the state of the destination, as well as supporting them through the process of pausing and canceling conferences.
Delivering Southern Hospitality
Louisville Tourism is working with local hospitality teams to donate food while properties are vacant. Kentucky International Convention Center and hospitality partner Levy teamed up to re-direct 4,000 pounds of food through a relationship with Dare to Care and Healing Place.
Bourbon distillery Rabbit Hole is repurposing its equipment and alcohol supply to produce hand sanitizer. Nonprofit Scarlet’s Bakery is providing free lunches to Shelby Park children. Chef Edward Lee of 610 Magnolia is partnering with Maker’s Mark distillery to create a goods drive for service-industry families. And Fund for the Arts is providing an at-home “Dinner and a Show” experience. During Kentucky Shakespeare’s virtual performance of As you Like It, audience members can order a meal to be picked up at 610 Magnolia. For each meal purchased, a meal will be donated to a hospitality worker in need.
“Tourism not only makes a daily impact as the third-largest industry in Louisville but continues to make a community impact during challenging times like these,” said Karen Williams, Louisville Tourism president and CEO. “We are grateful for the significant role the hospitality industry is playing in supporting our 27,000 service-industry members, as they are vital to Louisville’s success. We must keep our hospitality community strong, as tourism will be one of the first industries out of the starting gate to aid the city’s economic recovery.”
A Comforting Hand
Visit Milwaukee is reporting that The Wisconsin Quilt & Fiber Art Museum is working on a quarantine quilt. Crafters stuck at home will create 12-inch squares and mail them to the museum, which will create a large-scale community quilt for public display.
Meanwhile, Central Standard Craft Distillery is putting its spirit-making to a slightly different use. They’re now creating bottles of sprayable hand sanitizer from vodka and giving it away for free to at-risk groups such as nursing homes, homeless shelters, first responders and food banks.
Seeking to help fill employment gaps for service industry employees, locals have created a Facebook group that seeks to connect out-of-work service industry members with odd jobs. With nearly 3,000 members, the group is already beginning to share success stories, like the former pub employee who has been able to earn extra cash detailing cars through the help of this group.
Stone Creek Coffee, the Pfister Hotel, Potawatomi Hotel & Casino, Saz’s Hospitality Group and Milwaukee Public Market are donating perishable food to Milwaukee food banks. From curbside literature donations of online open mike nights and the Milwaukee Bucks team’s donation to help Fiserv Forum workers, everyone is stepping up.
Also noted on the CVBs note on their #goodthingsbrewing page are the thousands of Milwaukee families directly supporting their neighbors. “Kimberley Bayer posted signs in her neighborhood offering to support those on her block by doing grocery shopping, making meals or simply checking in daily with phone calls. It’s gestures like this that can mean the most to those with the fewest resources.
An Open Letter
Meet Minneapolis is reaching out to elected officials to deliver the message that tourism and hospitality are integral parts of our economy, encompassing a workforce of more than 37,000 individuals in Minneapolis. “These workers provide valuable services and assistance to the 34.5 million annual visitors we welcome to our metro region. The unprecedented public health crisis we’re facing has ground travel to a halt and put the businesses and workers who rely on visitor spending in peril,” the open letter reads.
“At Meet Minneapolis, our primary role is to promote business and leisure travel to visitors around the country and the world and those visits fuel our local economy, create jobs and sustain local workers and their families.”
The destination is calling on Washington to establish a fund to keep workers employed, provide emergency liquidity for travel and hospitality businesses to remain open and bulk up the Small Business Administration loan program. “On behalf of our Minneapolis tourism and hospitality workers, we strongly urge Congress to act quickly to protect these individuals. Needed is additional relief in the ‘Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act to ensure that the travel workforce can emerge from this crisis strong and intact, so they can power the economic recovery.”
Are destinations in your area stepping up to help during challenging times? Let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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