Perseverance vs. Pandemic

Four operator stories from Arival 360 that will simply inspire the heck out of you.

Reading Time: 3 minute 24 seconds

Let’s face it. For so many of us in tours, activities and attractions, 2020 stinks. Industry gross bookings (GMV) are down 76% year to date, according to Arival’s Recovery Survey. There’s no sugar-coating that. 

But there’s a whole lot more to this industry in 2020 than difficulty and decline. There’s another side – we think a much more important side – of this story: numerous stories of operators determined to persevere and do whatever it takes to see their business through. 

Here are four great operator stories you’ll hear at Arival 360. 

The Great Escape

Maria Rasouli loved bike riding as a child when growing up in Iran. However, when girls reach a certain age they are no longer permitted to do so. Years later, she emigrated to Canada and started Escape Bicycle Tours. Now she’s doing long-term rentals to locals. She shared her story on Monday, Oct. 26, and the talk is available on-demand to all attendees. 

Creation in Crisis: The JAMNOLA Story

This past March Jonny Liss was a month away from opening a life-long ambition of creating an interactive museum to celebrate the local arts and culture of New Orleans. When Covid hit, they had to redo everything, from the interactive exhibits to marketing and capacity management. They opened later than planned this summer, and now they’re doing way more than OK. You can hear his story on Thursday, Oct. 29. 

$250K of Inspiration in a Box

There are more than 100 food tour operators attending Arival 360. They have been especially affected by the pandemic, not only because of the impact on their own businesses, but because of the challenges also facing their many restaurant and local business partners.

And yet culinary experience operators have been an incredible source of creativity, from innovative virtual tours and cooking experiences to retooling their businesses to deliver “food tours in a box.” 

Also on Thursday, Oct. 29, we’ll hear from Theresa Nemetz of Milwaukee Food & City Tours. She’ll do whatever it takes to make a sale, and she’s closing in on $250,000 in sales of her food box sales and subscriptions. 

Fighting the Pandemic with Pizza

The sources of inspiration aren’t just in the form of business success, or even perseverance. Inspiration can also be found in the incredible spirit of this industry. 

Scott Wiener of Scott’s Pizza Tours in New York City acknowledges business hasn’t exactly been booming. But that didn’t stop him from giving back. This spring he launched Pizza vs. Pandemic to support frontline healthcare workers and local restaurants. To date, they’ve raised $636,000 and delivered more than 32,000 pizzas to frontline workers. The funds have gone to support local restaurants and pizzerias.  

By the way, he’s also doing virtual pizza tours and pizza-making classes. He’ll readily admit it’s not much of a business, but he does it because he loves it, and it keeps his team and himself engaged with their customers. You’ll hear him share his learnings on Monday, Nov. 2, in a session on the business reality of virtual experiences. 

These are just four of so many examples of creators and sellers of experiences around the world who are pivoting, preserving and giving back to their communities, supporting their guides, and supporting one another. 

That’s is the state of our industry and the incredible operator community that makes up the Best Part of Travel.

There is still time to join us at Arival 360. Connect with 1600 of the brightest minds and most committed people from tours, activities, attractions, and experiences around the world. Register now with promo code (MKNL36020) to receive a 75% discount and pay as little as $99 for all five days. All of the content and networking will be available for a full year. 

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