As we power forward, a look in the rearview is warranted. As the French say, “plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose!” The more it changes, the more it’s the same thing. 

Two years ago now, in March 2020, the travel industry was hit by a crisis the likes of which we have never seen before.

In the first three months of the COVID-19 pandemic, we interviewed dozens of tourism leaders and strategists from around the world. Thirteen of those leaders reflected on the most pressing issues facing destination marketing organizations (DMOs) at the beginning of the crisis:

Dan Holowack, co-founder and CEO, CrowdRiff

Dan Holowack
co-founder and CEO

Greg Oates, senior vice president of innovation, MMGY NextFactor

Greg Oates
senior vice president
of innovation
MMGY NextFactor

Christine (Shimo) Shimasaki, managing director, 2Synergize

Christine (Shimo)

managing director

Chris Hughes, director and master experience crafter, BC Hughes

Chris Hughes
director and master
experience crafter
BC Hughes

Amir Eylon, president and CEO, Longwoods International

Amir Eylon
president and CEO
Longwoods International

Jack Johnson, chief advocacy officer and director of board relations, Destinations International

Jack Johnson
chief advocacy officer and
director of board relations
Destinations International

Rodney Payne, CEO, Destination Think!

Rodney Payne
Destination Think!

Loren Gold, executive vice president, Greater Raleigh CVB

Loren Gold
executive vice president
Greater Raleigh CVB

Greg Klassen, partner, Twenty31 Consulting

Greg Klassen
Twenty31 Consulting

Flavie Baudot, chief operating officer, European Cities Marketing

Flavie Baudot
chief operating officer
European Cities Marketing

Bill Geist, chief instigator, DMOproz

Bill Geist
chief instigator

​​Trevor Tkach, president and CEO, Traverse City Tourism

​​Trevor Tkach
president and CEO
Traverse City Tourism


Terri Roberts, program manager, 2Synergize

Terri Roberts
program manager


Spoiler alert … the issues they identified were already in play before the pandemic, and they are still the top priorities for destination organizations today. 

In those interviews, five themes emerged consistently: 

  • Stakeholder engagement
  • Destination alignment 
  • DMO advocacy 
  • Digital disruption 
  • Destination development

Spanish philosopher George Santayana said it best: “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”