|By Jim Zaleski
Well, here we go! Welcome to 2021. Normally, the first president’s report is filled with industry successes from the previous year and a positive report on how the new year is progressing. Well, as they say, “This ain’t that type of movie.” In fact, this is me preparing to carve up 2020 and be done with it.
The challenges we face as we start a new year are unlike anything we have seen in the past. While hard learned lessons from similar situations are serving us well; for the most part, we are making it up as we go along and just playing the cards we’ve been dealt. If you haven’t noticed, I plan on entering this column to the Guinness Book for the most cliché’s ever used. So stick with me.
Looking back at 2020 – and all clichés aside – I can’t thank everyone enough. Our TIAK members, board of directors, Marlee, Natalie, Bridgette, and Secretary Loveless have led and guided us well in an ever-changing world these past eleven months. TIAK and the folks at Travel KS certainly seemed to take lemons and turn them into some darn good lemonade. And with former TIAK President Kelly Peetoom’s help, we turned that lemonade into a screwdriver during the virtual happy hour at the annual conference.
As TIAK moves into 2021, I want to stress that we will take safety and the well-being of our membership as our top priority when considering how to carry on the activities you have come to rely on from your Association. As you saw with the annual conference, this could mean virtual or limited access to such future events as Destination Statehouse, April Education or other typically in-person TIAK productions. This will not soften our determination to represent you at the highest level in the Halls of Topeka, nor will it serve as an excuse to not provide our membership with the highest level of educational opportunities available.
On the contrary, these obstacles will provide the edge to sharpen our resolve and the inspiration to rise above and become an even stronger organization and industry. Whenever safe and possible, I will urge in-person meetings as TIAK, along with our partners at Travel KS, forge the path to reopening our great state. We will also offer the ability for those that cannot join us in-person to continue their valued participation through the ever-popular Zoom or other virtual format.
As we plot the course for the next 12 months, I want to thank you all for standing strong during these uncertain and turbulent times. Now more than ever, TIAK needs your membership, your sponsorships and your participation.
In the next few days and weeks, the Board of Directors will be taking into consideration potential cost saving steps as we expect a very lean year. We will also evaluate how and when to bring you our 2021 version of the April Educational Event. We also will discuss the Governor’s Executive Order and provide lobbying information to you as we face what could possibly be one of the most important decisions for the Kansas Department of Tourism in decades.
So stay tuned as we move into a new year, where TIAK will build upon its wonderful foundation and dare to dream of celebrating our tourism successes once again in person. I ask for your help along with the TIAK Board and Exec Committee, because together we can write our own script of the last act of this movie.