TORONTO — To commemorate the one-year anniversary of the COVID-19 pandemic, Zeina Gedeon, TPI’s CEO and President, is reflecting on a year of incredible losses but also of resilience and “many little blessings.”
Today, March 11, marks one year since the World Health Organization officially declared the COVID-19 outbreak a pandemic, prompting airlines, cruise lines, hotels, tour operators and other travel-related businesses around the world to halt operations. A full year later, travel restrictions are still severely limiting global travel, impacting travel agents and agencies across the globe.
In an open letter to the travel industry, Gedeon praised supplier partners and agents for stepping up this past year and highlighted how the TPI family is moving forward with hope and a newfound sense of unity. Her letter in its entirety is as follows:
Dear Industry Colleagues,
Fifty-two weeks, 365 days, it seems like five years to most of us!
One year the world has been on “hold,” sadly only enriched with increased stress, mental anguish, and isolation. I am sure you may have questioned your desire to stick it out; you’ve been angry, sad and have grieved the loss of your business. Over the last week or so, we hear everyone talking about approaching the one-year anniversary of the pandemic and the pause in travel being declared, we’ve thought back on our past trips and how we spent the last few days of “normal,” if only we knew it was our last few days! But what if we looked at this anniversary differently?
This is the anniversary of 365 days of resilience, persevering even when things are hard, finding new ways to connect and collaborate. We have seen the travel industry come together in ways that we have never seen before. From our valued supplier partners to our travel advisor colleagues and everyone in between, you have stepped up and showed that even after 365 days of being faced with a pause, collectively, we can organize and mobilize in different ways. We can continue to show up for our beloved industry and find our voice to make a difference and connect in ways that we never have before.
While the last year has been incredibly difficult and devastating in many ways, it has also been overflowing with so many little blessings we otherwise would have never had the joy of experiencing. We’ve had the time to reconnect with our loved ones and creatively found ways to communicate while adhering to the stay-at-home orders. We have slowed down; we have evaluated our business and made changes that will allow us to be in a better position to serve our clients when the world opens up.
What has clearly emerged is customer-centricity, and digital are the two winners and opportunities for us to spark the recovery. I know for us at TPI, we had to reinvent our support and connections for our TPI family during this challenging time. As a company, we continued to follow a framework built around our clients and partners to support efficiencies and new go-to-market strategies. We’ve invested in upgrading, enhancing and updating our back-office processes, database and training programs. We showed up and continued to show up for our members and expanded our offerings to ensure our advisors’ needs are met in several ways!
As we continue to forge ahead in 2021, I am positive, and I see encouraging growth, strengthened relationships and an industry that is together and unified. Your clients are waiting to catch up on their lost vacations, and your supplier partners are waiting to help you in any way they can. The future looks bright. Let’s take the lessons learned from the past 365 days and apply them to our business to ensure that we come out on the other side stronger, focused and proud of how far we’ve come!
I am proud and inspired by the way TPI and our industry as a whole has risen to handle this challenge – with flexibility, resilience, courage – and a caring heart. Thank you for your enormous contributions. I am sticking with Us. Let’s work together to keep going!
CEO & President
Travel Professionals International