How Are Destination Organizations Creating Safe Workplaces?

by: Andreas Weissenborn and Gabe Seder, Destinations International Foundation

Six months into the worst public health crisis we have seen in generations, the pandemic is continuing to disrupt operations at destination organizations - even as some organizations try to return to normal operations. Last week, we surveyed members around the world to understand what steps they are taking - if any - to bring employees back into offices, reopen visitor information centers and manage their physical spaces.

While surveys in March and April showed that the vast majority of our members had transitioned to remote working, last week fully half of survey respondents indicated that they had started a partial or staged return of employees to their workplace. A third reported that their staff remain full-time remote, while the remaining 17% have full time staff working in the office.

Those whose teams are returning to offices report that they are taking the following steps to ensure that workplaces are clean and safe for employees:

  1. Enforce physical distancing, mask wearing, etc.
  2. Install sanitation stations
  3. Require temperature checks and masks upon entry

With nearly two-thirds of respondents working fully or partially remote, many organizations are rethinking their need for permanent office space or looking for opportunities to reduce office costs. Only 32% of respondents indicated that they are not currently considering making changes to their workplaces. The remaining 68% of respondents reported that they are at least considering downsizing office space, moving into a cheaper space, attempting to renegotiating their lease, or transitioning into a permanent remote work environment. Other options include subleasing unused office space, using WeWork-style shared office space, and using a rotational work schedule to reduce office space needs.

Finally, we asked whether destination organizations are continuing to operate visitor information centers. Of those respondents who operate a visitor information center, 46% are currently open. Of these, 55% have returned to their normal full-time hours and 45% are operating on limited or partial hours.

Asked how they intend to keep visitor information centers safe for staff and guests, members reported that they intend to maintain cleanliness standards, in particular at high-touch areas like brochure racks, gift shops, and point-of-sale machines. Others reported that they intend to introduce technology to replace in-person activities.

About the Authors

Andreas Weissenborn headshot
Andreas Weissenborn
Senior Director of Research & Advocacy
Destinations International
Introduced to the world of destination organizations by a random internship application to Visit Baltimore (then known as Baltimore Area Convention & Visitors Association), Andreas Weissenborn began an unexpected career into hospitality that left him with a continued passion towards the tourism industry.

He spent just short of 11 years with Visit Baltimore helping with its Research, Technology, and Information Systems across the organization. In 2017, Andreas joined the Association on behalf of a Destinations International Foundation initiative to be a dedicated research source for Destinations International.
Gabe Seder headshot
Gabe Seder
Senior Director of Advocacy Policy & Program Development
Destinations International Foundation
Gabe is a tourism marketing and destination development professional with more than 10 years of experience consulting for emerging and established destinations and tourism businesses around the world. He has supported city, regional, and national destination organizations to create and implement tourism strategies and master plans, develop and roll out national tourism brands, and implement international multi-channel marketing campaigns.

A native of coastal Maine, Gabriel lives in Washington DC. He has a Bachelor of Arts in International Affairs from the George Washington University.