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.

Today we sat down with Trevor Tkach, CEO of Traverse City Tourism (TCT) to talk about the impacts of COVID-19 on tourism in his region, and what he’s doing to mitigate those effects, prepare for recovery and lead his stakeholders and the industry in this time of crisis and in the future.

It’s spring in Traverse City and TCT was just in the process of gearing up for their busiest time in terms of marketing and visitation. “Summer is paramount,” as Trevor put it, “we have to have that season to sustain to sustain the other three.”

Already deep into their early-season marketing spend, TCT had to pivot. Millions of dedicated marketing dollars had to be suspended, delayed or canceled, and all this against the painful reality of the human cost of furloughs and layoffs necessary to preserve the enterprise.

Tourism is an integral and dominant part of the regional economy in northern Michigan. Trevor’s team was faced with the unprecedented task of finding a way to preserve the capacity of TCT so that when they do reach the re-emergence phase in this crisis, TCT can play its essential role in rebuilding the revenues and assets that are made possible through the influx of tourism dollars.

Trevor, like many great CEOs around the country right now, has taken the position that even with massive staff and resource cuts the TCT has to stay “on” so Traverse City can achieve the best and fastest recovery possible.

It is difficult in times like this, if not almost impossible, not to be numbed by the crushing stats, the ominous curves of the prediction graphs and the immediate and overwhelming loss of revenue… but as Trevor points out, we have to plan for the future and we have to do that now.

If that means reimagining an organization that runs on a small fraction of its previous budget over the next two years… well that’s what great leaders are doing and they are doing it now. 

That’s what Trevor Tkach is doing in Traverse City, Michigan.