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.


Rodney Payne, CEO of DestinationThink, keeps a quote from USN Vice Admiral James Stockdale on his whiteboard at his home office. These days, the Stockdale paradox reminds us that our optimism must be tempered by decisive and direct action: You must never confuse your faith that you will prevail in the end - which you can never afford to lose - with the discipline to confront the most brutal facts of your current reality, whatever they may be.

Rodney and I sat down to talk about the ‘reset’ coming out of the COVID-19 crisis and how it is both a massive challenge and an opportunity. “I never doubted not only that I would get out, but also that I would prevail in the end and turn the experience into the defining event of my life,” reads the Stockdale quote Rodney has on his whiteboard, and today he challenges all of us to step up and make this crisis and the future sustainability of tourism our defining moment.

DestinationThink has been a small but powerful disruptor in the tourism sector for over a decade. The Social Media in Tourism Conference (SoMeT) they pioneered in 2011 was one of the first of its kind, a laser focused symposium that brought together the best thinkers and practitioners of social media in tourism from around the world; it was a harbinger of the impending dominance of social media in tourism marketing almost a decade ahead of its time.

Rodney sees a rapidly changing landscape in the midst of COVID-19 that means strategic planning is difficult and often obsolete as fast as it is documented. While he likes to say it is too soon for strategy, he admits that this is his bulwark against mono-focused bad planning; he doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t plan, but he does make it clear, you have to have a multiplicity of scenario plans that can be adjusted and perfected as the crisis evolves.

The necessity of a destination management approach to tourism development has never been more obvious. If the merits of that argument are still being contested in corners of the country, well, frankly they shouldn't be. The idea that digital communication and social media are an integral part of tourism isn’t being debated anymore, but that doesn’t mean we are yet adept and skilled at deploying those assets.  

Rodney Payne challenges us all to think long and hard about what we want to build coming out of this crisis - and that’s where great leaders are already hard at work.