In this time of global crisis and uncertainty, we put the call out to leaders, CEOs, strategists and consultants to sit down and tell us, in their own words, what is going on and what is going to happen next in this vital global industry.
In 2011, Visit London, the destination management organization that represents the British Capital, merged with two other city organizations: Study London and Think London, an economic development organization promoting foreign investment. The new public-private agency, London & Partners, would be responsible for promoting the city to leisure and business travelers, meetings, conventions and students, as well as driving business growth.
Today London & Partners' work includes promoting London across the world, attracting overseas organizations, events, students and visitors, helping to retain and grow London companies, growing the London brand around the world and creating partnerships and ventures to foster resilient, sustainable and inclusive growth.
It is one of the early examples of an industry-led coalition that was created to optimize resources, strengthen alignment and increase engagement with local partners and operators in the tourism sector — one I think we have much to learn from. For while it was economic recession that spurred the creation of London & Partners, that crisis parallels, to some extent, what we all need to address as we rebuild from the pandemic.
Over the past decade, destination entities have been making a gradual shift to stakeholder-based networks, distributed social media marketing and partner-based destination development. And yes, I say "gradual" — it hasn’t been happening quickly... that is, it wasn't prior to the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, which, to put it plainly, changed everything.
Barbara Jamison-Woods heads up Europe tourism and business development at London & Partners. She was with Visit London before the merger, and she has been on deck for the sweeping changes of the last decade. Today, just as it was in 2011 for London but now all around the world, new models of business, new partnerships and new technologies — tempered with a keen awareness of longstanding values — are the way forward. And these are what Barbara Jamison Woods is very good at.