GainingEdge Advisory Issue #2 – 2 April 2020

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Putting Some Order to the Chaos

Our last newsletter discussed the importance of engaging your local stakeholders to work together in developing solutions. As our industry manoeuvres its way through these times, it is always helpful to learn from and share with each other – we believe Vancouver, Canada’s current effort is worth discussing. 

Getting organized as a destination is a critical step in being able to effectively develop strategies to respond to the situation now and looking to future recovery.  Destinations need to put in place meaningful structures that are nimble, responsive, and inclusive, to address the multi-faceted nature of this challenge. Now is not the time to go inward as an organization but to reach out to others in your community and take a leadership role where appropriate.

In Vancouver, under the leadership of Tourism Vancouver (the Metro Vancouver Convention and Visitors Bureau), a public- and private-sector Task Force has been formed.  Starting with 50 organizations – and growing – representing multiple interests, the common element that binds all players is that few industries are as dramatically affected by COVID-19 as tourism and business events. The motivation is to have a powerful, united, and action-oriented body to act in a coordinated way for the sector.

The Task Force’s work is being advanced by four distinct working groups:

  • Impact Assessment
  • Government Relations
  • Issues Management and Communications, and
  • Sector Recovery Strategy

The working groups are mandated to focus on their area by first developing core objectives and tactics.  The working groups meet remotely on a weekly basis and report up to the main Task Force on progress made. Given the extremely dynamic situation, each working groups is evolving its objectives and tactics and making sure to adapt whenever they can or should.

Impact Assessment

Focus is on estimating the impact of COVID-19 on the industry, and to develop scenarios. They work with other industry organizations that are also assessing impacts and customize where necessary for the destination. Information is fed to the other working groups to help inform their effort.

Government Relations

Focus is on keeping abreast of government initiatives that may impact the sector, and to liaise with government on the Task Force’s actions while advocating for the industry. Government representatives also participate on the Task Force, helping expedite information flow.

Issues Management and Communications

Helps to inform all stakeholders of the progress of the Task Force, while keeping abreast of local, regional and national information. An important role of this group is to ensure issues are identified and communicated quickly to those audiences relevant to the Task Force, and across the working groups themselves.

Sector Recovery Strategy

A resource where stakeholders can connect and collaborate and be ready for when recovery begins. The group is be an information repository for industry as recovery programs are being developed and will begin developing a business readiness toolkit for industry operators.

We hope Vancouver’s example is helpful as you develop your own structures to deal with the situation. You might want to form a task force with no committees, or a task force with different committees. The important advice here is to determine what areas need to be addressed and divide up the work so that it does not become overwhelming to any person or organization. Another important consideration is to have a structure in place that provides for openness and transparency, while jointly holding each accountable for actions to be undertaken.   To that end, it is essential that task force members communicate the updates and findings of the effort to their own stakeholders on an ongoing basis.  

We would like to thank Tourism Vancouver and all their partners for sharing their approach with you. 


“If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.”
African Proverb


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