By: Chip Juedes, Fox World Travel CEO
Had you told me a year ago that Fox World Travel would go from nearly a decade of steady growth to running on less than 15% of normal sales and revenue for a year plus, I would’ve rolled my eyes. No book has been written or experience had that could have prepared us for the last year from a financial, leadership or mental health perspective. We continue to adjust daily as individuals and organizations about how we operate in – what I am sure we are all tired of hearing – the new and constantly evolving normal.
In the spirit of overused buzzwords, “pivot” has become our internal theme at Fox. I am beyond grateful to all of our Fox Family members for their flexibility, understanding and willingness to embrace the pivot throughout the last year. It seems that every time the industry saw traction; new regulations, political changes or other external factors forced all of us to keep re-evaluating our plans. As we enter a year since COVID-19 impacted our industry, Fox continues to shift, pivot and adapt our Find-a-Way foundation to continue to serve our customers today and in the future.
We have all grown accustomed to operating in a constant state of flux. Small glimmers of hope are there, yet our recovery remains tied to decisions made by elected officials in individual cities, states, and countries. Where we are now could be very different than next week, next month or even next year.
The thing people often forget about travel is that it has been dealt blows before. As a result, change has become part of our DNA, and those that embrace this rather than fight it become tougher and more nimble. Now in our 61st year and third generation of family leadership, Fox has experienced recessions, wars and 9/11, and has adapted to emerge stronger each time.
Sixty years ago, the concept of a last-minute business trip around the world was considered impossible, whereas up until last year it was considered the norm. Family travel has also changed, with the ability to more easily gather multiple generations from around the world in one place for an experience they will remember forever. Whereas travel once was considered a luxury, it is now a part of most household budgets and an expectation for many in their chosen career.
This past year has seen the lowest numbers of travelers reported across the industry in decades, but that doesn’t mean that should be considered the industry’s new norm. I believe that face-to-face interactions cannot be replaced by screen time. The mental health of many, myself included, relies upon experiencing new cities and cultures to fill our cups and broaden our horizons.
I am certain Fox, along with everyone who considers the annual business conference not as work, but a perk; their airline status as the equivalent of an Olympic medal; or wanderlust a personality trait, will find a way back out in the world again soon enough.
As the vaccine becomes more widely available, it will still take time for a return to normal in our personal lives and within travel. First to our personal lives, eating at a restaurant, interacting with friends, going to a concert and returning to our offices in person. This all must come before visitors are allowed to businesses or large conferences are attended. Resorts, airlines and cruise lines must all rehire staff and put their infrastructure back in place.
After nearly a year of turbulent skies, the entire industry is bruised and battered, but I can see smooth air ahead. There will certainly still be storms before we reach land, but it is in our sights.
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