Our Industry’s Economic Recovery Elevator Pitch

By Jack Johnson, Destinations International 

 An elevator pitch, which actually rarely happens in an elevator, is a succinct and persuasive sales pitch prepared in advance for use at a moment’s notice. Hopefully, its sparks the interest of someone in what your organization does, or an idea you want invested in, or a product you are selling. The name comes from the notion that the speech should be delivered in the short time of an elevator ride, usually 20-60 seconds. If the elevator pitch succeeds, it will serve as introduction to a larger, more thorough, discussion of whatever you are selling or proposing. 

The reason I bring this up is that over the last few months I have watched a variety of people, from a variety of industries, who have been given just a couple of minutes to argue for inclusion in government recovery legislation. Too many do not get to point quick enough.  Too many spend time making the case for their importance with facts and figures. Too many people got bogged down in ROI stats. Too many undercut their arguments by showing reasons that they did not need help. And too many failed to get to the point quickly, much less persuasively. 

Which brings me to our current elevator pitch. Whether seeking financial or regulatory assistance, or fighting off budget cuts or freezes, or just explaining the state of our industry, I would like to respectfully suggest the following. Let’s start with the why. 

The global pandemic has decimated the travel, tourism, and meetings industry everywhere. More jobs were lost in our sector than any other. The largest number of small business closures are associated with our sector. And some of the greatest drops in government tax revenue were a result of the downturn in our sector. Put simply, there is no economic recovery without a travel, tourism, and meetings recovery. 

No stats. No ROI. Just a clear statement of the scope and the reason for their attention. There is no economic recovery without a travel, tourism, and meetings recovery. So why invest in destination organizations? 

At the core of the travel, tourism, and meetings industry is the destination organization. We are the experts. We bring strategies to achieve awareness and positive impressions; brand development, management, and communication; promotion, marketing, sales, and visitor engagement. We have the tools, knowledge and relationships to provide the solutions.  

No stats. No ROI. Just a statement about what we do. We are the experts. Now, show your passion and connect emotionally. 

And we have something that no outside entity will bring to the table. We have the love of our community and we will be directly affected by the results. We are personally invested.  

No stats. No ROI. Just a statement of passion. We are personally invested. Finally, put yourself into the bigger picture. 

We are a community asset responsible for programs promoting a community as an attractive travel destination and enhancing its public image as a dynamic place to live and work. We strengthen the community’s economic position and vitality beyond the travel, tourism and meetings industry which provides opportunity for all the people in the destination.  

Without investment in a destination organization, you have a hole in your recovery strategy. We are central to our community’s economic recovery. 

No stats. No ROI. Just a succinct and persuasive pitch that hopefully sparks the interest of someone in what your organization does and why it should be invested in. Without investment in a destination organization, you have a hole in your recovery strategy. 

Now I am pretty sure that after this I will once again take flack that I am saying we do not need a ROI statement, or we do not need to use stats.  That is not what I am saying.  I just think you can be more effective if you do not lead with them. Use them instead to back up your elevator pitch.  

 About Jack:

As Chief Advocacy Officer, Jack Johnson manages the overall public policy operations at Destinations International including member advocacy education and training, development of destination tools and best practices, coalition work with peer organizations, industry research and related public affairs activities.  He also oversees the board governance, the Destination Management Accreditation Program (DMAP) and the DestinationNEXT (Assessments and Planning) Program. Johnson brings unrivaled experience developing innovative strategies, policy solutions and civic consensus for government, not-for-profits and small businesses.

Johnson has received numerous accolades including being named as one of Successful Meetings’ 25 Most Influential People in the Meetings Industry in 2018 for his work on opposing travel boycotts and bans. Currently, his work around positioning destination organizations as a shared value in each of their communities and speaking with a new lexicon based on the emotion-driven by those values has made him one of the leading voices of the travel industry.

During his previous tenure with Choose Chicago, Johnson played a leading role in the extensive reforms of the McCormick Place Convention Center and the Chicago Convention & Tourism Bureau, resulting in a new convention center operating model with both a travel industry and a citywide civic perspective. Johnson was integrally involved in the merger of the Chicago Convention & Tourism Bureau and the Chicago Office of Tourism, resulting in maximizing their resources, unifying the message and embedding the organization into the city’s economic development strategy.