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.


What can I say about Greg Oates? I could say that he’s pretty much my favorite intellectual futurist in the industry, and that would be enough; but he also backs up that thinking with some of the best front-line experience in stakeholder engagement and alignment through his ongoing global work on DestinationNext.

Today, I sat down with Greg to talk about how destinations are building intentional stakeholder networks and how those networks are proving to be a huge asset as we deal with the realities of COVID-19. 

As Greg put it, “Some cities have really been building that network and expanding beyond tourism into the local creative economy and knowledge economy. We are finding that with COVID-19, the cities that have worked to establish those networks and have been more intentional stewards of their communities, are in a much better position now to be effective in their destination.”

Fort Worth is an example that springs to mind. Greg talks about how was able to pivot and quickly publish  a series of pages showing residents how they could support local businesses, artists, restaurants and artisans, as well as information on how visitors can virtually explore the city.

Greg says there is a reason for that. Visit Fort Worth had been purposefully evolving into a more community-driven, resident-focused organization. It has networks beyond tourism and hospitality into the civic, private and public sectors.

As we move through the rapidly shifting landscape of COVID-19, predictive modeling is difficult at best and almost impossible at worst. With the reality changing every week, we are in a constant revision of our current, medium and long-term plans. But plan and adjust we must! It’s how we survive individually, and as an industry.

One thing stands true, however, now and in the future: the best destinations are the product of highly engaged communities that take an active role in shaping their collective future.

That’s what Greg Oates is talking about. That’s what great leaders are doing.