May 28, 2024

Green shoots

The impact of the pandemic will be felt for a long time yet but there are reasons to feel optimistic, says ITM CEO Scott Davies

A lot of us consider ourselves to be positive thinkers, the clichéd “glass half full” type. The travel industry is stocked with resilient, tireless, energetic cheerleaders that have a passion for exploring and have an unshakable belief in the power of bringing people together.

The way that our industry has been left to whither on the vine over the last year and a half has tested our optimistic natures to the limit. It is only natural to feel discouraged by what appears to be an acceptance at government level that the travel industry is collateral damage in the response to the Covid pandemic. For many of our community the financial and personal toll has been deeply felt for a prolonged time.

Those fortunate to still be in roles feel a mixture of empathy for their affected friends, guilt that they have been less impacted, uncertainty about the future and an intense motivation to get the recovery moving.

“Every day brings new opportunities and if you keep going, you never know what might be just around the corner”

All of us must try to focus every day on trying to be upbeat and holding each other up. It’s incredibly important that we keep checking in on each other because everyone will need or appreciate support.

It’s also important to fuel optimism, even though we all still need to be realistic about the pace of business travel’s recovery. With that in mind, I can report that the current sentiment among ITM’s buyer and supplier community is that domestic travel is ‘back’ – albeit not at pre-Covid levels, but there is definitely a lot more movement.

OBTs are also being turned on again for domestic travel bookings. Approvals increasingly no longer need C-suite sign off and are reverting to line managers. We also have some face-to-face industry events and gatherings to look forward to over the next few months and that is also cause for optimism. However, international travel is still challenging and complex and likely to remain so for the foreseeable future.

But let’s make a promise to ourselves to never give up. Every day brings new opportunities and if you keep going, you never know what might be just around the corner. We absolutely will reset and rebuild this industry and we will make our future selves proud.