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Travel, Normalcy, and Emotions. Oh my!

Updated: Aug 22, 2021

We’re all too familiar with the things we think of when we think of COVID-19 (C19). We’re reminded of masks and politics (regrettably) and quarantine and basically missing out on 2020 and beyond. Of course, there are the less obvious aspect of C19 that impact our lives and jobs just as much as any of the other pandemic problems.

Jobs and the Economy – Our industry has been significantly hit by C19. Not just meeting planning, but travel, tourism, and hospitality as a whole. Many suppliers were laid off and ended up moving to other industries. For those given the chance to return, C19 changed their perspectives, and many have decided to find a different path. I wonder, how much did work/life balance come into play?

In some cases, hotel workers who were furloughed from one department (say housekeeping) have been asked to return in a new capacity (such as F&B) and are as much as deer in headlights as meeting planners returning to face-to-face conferences. Will our industry continue to keep “pivoting,” or will upstream thinking save us, creating new ways to earn business, make the work more meaningful and distribute the revenue more fairly?

Return to Normal – There is no normal to return to. I’m not even sure there’s a new normal to find as much as there is one to create. If nothing else, C19 is forcing us to reexamine how we do our jobs. We’re becoming more proactive and learning to work and live in a world where planning for more than just one result or outcome is normal. We’re questioning assumptions and hoping our leaders will evolve.

Travel Concerns – This isn’t new, but it’s ever-changing, so it makes sense to consider if you’re vaccinated, how you’ll be traveling, where you’ll be once you get there and who you’ll be with. In general, being vaccinated, traveling with other vaccinated people and going by car are the least risky. The more people outside of your circle you’ll be around, the higher the risk.

Emotional Wellness – Whether you believe it or not, C19 affected you mentally. As a species, we’re not really meant to be isolated or confined alone. Studies have shown that prisoners in solitary confinement really go, well let’s just say bonkers, after an extended period in seclusion.

If you want more evidence that we’re all a bit off our rockers, look at the increase in active shooters, violence on airplanes and the newly arrived fake vaccination cards. How much denial does it take for someone to get counterfeit documents so they can enter restricted areas to spread a deadly disease? The airplane thing just didn’t happen pre-C19. Or if it did, it was rare and almost always involved too much imbibing. Now, just a simple request from a flight attendant: “Please put on your mask,” erupts into fisticuffs. It's enough to make us ask, what's wrong with us?

That part of the brain that protects us and helped us to survive since caveman days, the fight or flight part of the brain, doesn’t really like it when we experience a loss of control (which was about all of the past 17 plus months) and so we all might be a bit more jumpy or sensitive or experience higher rates of cortisol or adrenaline

C19 is going to continue to evolve and change. Sometimes it will be a big change and sometimes it won’t. We must evolve as well if we want to create a new normal that makes sense. Just remember the saying, when life gives you lemons… wear a mask.

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