Introducing a new series — ‘The road ahead: New realities in a pandemic economy’

Ralf Garrison and Bob Brown
Guest commentary

From Ralf Garrison, founder of Insights Collective, a pandemic economy think tank:

The Aspen Times in partnership with Aspen Chamber Resort Association is pleased to announce a new series, “The road ahead: New realities in a pandemic economy,” launching in Wednesday’s paper (see page A15) dedicated specifically to the COVID-19 pandemic economy in mountain resort communities across the West.

Six months in, it’s clear that both the pandemic itself and the economic consequences continue to be a major disruption to business-as-usual and the lifestyle common to locals, part-time residents and visitors. And while much has been learned about summer COVID considerations, winter brings with it new threats from fall flu season, COVID-20 and winter weather considerations, not to mention the context of a volatile economy, election cycle buffoonery and social unrest.

“The road ahead: New realities in a pandemic economy” is part of a new partnership between The Aspen Times and its sister publications and the Insights Collective, whose members are researchers, economists and market strategists who share a common goal of working together to help resort communities — and their tourism-dependent businesses — navigate their way through the unprecedented disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Our goal is to analyze economic consequences to help establish a sustainable business case and lifestyle for all, likely based on new realities.

The Collective uses data analysis and decision-making systems well established in other industries but not frequently found in the tourism industry, to 1) Gather such facts/evidence as is available, 2) Add selective original research, 3) Aggregate emerging best practices, 4) Apply a scenario-planning process from its think tank system to provide insights and recommendations about what you need to know to prepare for this coming winter, and what you should begin to anticipate in 2021 and beyond.

For those on the business side of mountain resort communities, the Swift organization is well known for the communication platform underneath many of the leading resort communities in the Rocky Mountain West. Swift’s commitment to the greater good of the industry is particularly important for an industry in need these days, and a great complement to our credo: “All of us, together, are smarter than any of us, individually,” — the collectivist approach upon which our Collective is founded.

From Bob Brown, president, Swift Communications:

The pandemic has delivered grueling days, weeks and now months filled with concern for our people, communities and our businesses. It was a couple days prior to the Labor Day holiday when one of our talented people sent me a note asking to connect me with Ralf Garrison to discuss an idea that appeared to be aligned with our mission.

Although I didn’t know Ralf personally, our resort newspapers had been using his information and research — he is the founder of Mountain Travel Symposium, DestiMetrics and the Central Reservation Association — to inform our communities for the past 25 years. Ralf and his group of colleagues are Western U.S. destination market experts when it comes to identifying consumer trends, sentiment and business insights.

After many planning discussions with Ralf and my team, I am pleased to announce The Aspen Times and our sister resort publications are collaborating with the Insights Collective to publish nine articles over the next nine weeks. “The road ahead: New realities in a pandemic economy” begins Wednesday and will culminate Nov. 25.

The purpose of the series is to illuminate insights on the changes to our markets and consumers, and offer thoughts about where we need to head as our new realities settle in for the coming year. The initial focus will be “What You Ought To Know” in order to plan and prepare for winter 2020-21, and evolve toward the “New Realities” forthcoming in 2021 and beyond.

Through this partnership with the Insights Collective team, The Aspen Times can deliver timely information to the community, with the overarching goal of promoting economic sustainability through actionable ideas and analysis. This series will be both in print and online offering flexibility to you to stay connected.

I’d like to leave you with what The Aspen Times and its sister publications endeavor each day to accomplish: “Champion the Power of People to Improve Communities.”

We intend this series will support this purpose, and we hope it provides insights for all to successfully move forward this winter and into 2021.