When Lisa Busch, a former office administrator, and Kevin Thuman, a retired educator, coach and student travel leader, purchased Dublin, Ohio-based Prime Tours in 2019, they couldn't have known the challenges they'd soon face. However, as new co-owners of a company that's been customizing group tours since 1996, Busch and Thuman's past experiences prepared them to take it all on in stride.
It's safe to say the travel industry, along with the rest of the world, is changing. Along with these changes are evolutions in the way we think about our day-to-day operations, approaches to self-care and ideas for future growth and expansion.
To get some expert insight from an industry veteran with years of leadership wisdom, Groups Today caught up with Greg Takehara, CEO of Tourism Cares, for the next interview in our Q&A series, Ask the Exec.
The series serves as an opportunity to sit down with some of the most recognizable faces in industry leadership to get their perspectives on travel recovery, mental health, industry innovation and more. Keep reading to learn what insight Takehara had to share.
Groups Today: What opportunities do you see for the industry to build back better in the wake of the pandemic?
Greg Takehara: We were fortunate to learn valuable lessons from the pandemic and these must not be forgotten. We gained a sense of coming together as an industry, as a community, understanding that no one of us can meet today's challenges alone. In confronting climate action and the threats to the people and places of travel who provide us with the experiences that we sell, as well as our livelihoods, we must work together and meet aggressive goals to ensure we have a future. We must adopt and champion sustainability as being foundational to our business model and core values. We must embrace diversity, equity, and inclusion as cornerstones of our work.
Groups Today: When it comes to sustainability, how can leaders and business owners ensure they're taking the proper steps to move the industry forward in an environmentally conscious way?
Greg Takehara: There are so many resources and thought leaders. Get started, measure your progress, and seek help. Tourism Cares and movements such as B Corp foster a spirit of cooperation and support, lending best practices and real encouragement, that dispels any notion of competition. True leaders see the big picture, understand that we must all be part of this journey, and that we can all reap the rewards.
Groups Today: What's something you've done to benefit your mental health since the pandemic began?
Greg Takehara: My husband and I adopted senior rescue dogs over two years ago. They were then 13-year-old Shiba Inu brothers—Billy and Whitey—named after the famed Bulger brothers. They trained us to be conscientious and loving owners and gave us love and perspective while we managed our pandemic lives.
Groups Today: Similarly, how do you recommend businesses and organizations ensure their teams are prioritizing their mental health after the traumatic couple years we've had?
Greg Takehara: Listen to their voices, engage in journeys with them and support your local communities. There is so much engagement to be had, where support, encouragement and togetherness exist.
Groups Today: What's one prediction you would make about the industry in the next two years?
Greg Takehara: I think that progress will be made through radical collaboration. As mentioned above, there will be strong adoption of the principle that we cannot do the necessary work alone and that will be coupled with a sense of urgency.
Groups Today: As we move forward, what do our readers need to know about Tourism Cares?
Greg Takehara: Tourism Cares convenes, educates, and inspires our industry and we welcome all who seek to advance its collective impact. We use the 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals as guideposts for our work and we look to meet everyone where they are at on their sustainability journey. Tourism Cares has training and best practice tools to share, as well as convening spaces to help our members connect the dots and stay focused on the work necessary to ensure our longevity. We look to inspire and be inspired.
Written by Sarah Suydam, Managing Editor for Groups Today.