The 570: Covid-19 And Corporate Travel Jobs

This Is The 570 – A Compilation Of Interviews, Multimedia And Narrative About The Pandemic’s Impact On Corporate Travel Jobs

We Thought It Would Only Last A Few Months

Since its founding in 2014, The Company Dime has focused its attention on the business of business travel, a subject for which a typical week’s headlines might capture the rollout of new productivity-enhancing technology, the acquisition of a travel agency or a dustup between airlines and distributors. Then, in 2020, the Covid-19 pandemic visited devastating consequences upon the industry we have devoted the preponderance of our careers writing about.

Almost overnight, a massive number of corporate travel counselors, account managers and the suppliers they worked with found themselves sidelined as their employers urgently cut costs to keep from going out of business. Among those put out of action were some of The Company Dime’s newsmakers, news sources and longtime subscribers. Emails to people we’d come to depend on triggered out-of-office replies. Phone calls were met with outgoing voice messages referring our calls to a less-familiar organizational contact. Suddenly, one of the more relevant stories in the industry became one that we’ve rarely focused on in years past: the very livelihoods of the corporate travel professionals we’ve forged relationships with over decades.

Having a familiar face depart abruptly and unexpectedly produces a sense of emptiness. The Company Dime decided to reach out to some of those whose careers were derailed to ask what they did to weather the industry cataclysm, how their search for a new job was going and what lessons they might share with peers facing similar challenges.

Our outreach began in the spring of 2020 with a one-year subscription offer for any travel professional furloughed or laid off because of the pandemic. Five-hundred seventy subscribers took us up on it. Humbled by that number, we asked ourselves how The Company Dime might help those experiencing career disruptions beyond a complimentary subscription. The answer grew into what we’ve come to call The 570: a survey, a pair of conference calls, a Zoom roundtable and stories intended to provide networking opportunities, professional advice and morale-boosting to the industry as a whole.

On March 12, 2021, we asked The 570 to share their experiences amid the pandemic: Did you find a new role inside or outside the industry? Do you have experiences you can share that might raise awareness of job-hunting issues or otherwise could help others? How has the past year changed you? We also asked what kinds of additional resources would be helpful to them. Their responses were at times optimistic and at others heartbreaking.

• “The pause in my career has been a blessing in disguise. I have reconnected with friends, learned new hobbies, taken online courses, gotten more exercise, and even completed some household projects assigned by my wife!”

• “Looking for new career! Scared half to death … all I know is travel!”

• “In many ways it feels like the movie ‘Groundhog Day.’ Going through the interview process over and over again is very draining, but I try to learn from each rejection and move on.”

• “I am still looking for a new role both in the travel industry and in new industries. Had a couple of opportunities that I was a finalist for but it did not happen for me. … Just trying to stay positive everyday is a challenge.”

• “In the beginning I was optimistic like everyone that it would just be a few months. That was a year ago. … I was the only one on my team that didn’t take early retirement or the severance package and took the leave of absence … because it [seemed] like we would be traveling again in spring. As of March 16 [my TMC] is letting all the LOA employees go.”

• “I found it extremely challenging to have others look past the experience area of my background on my résumé as all they saw was travel, travel, travel …”

• “It shouldn’t be this hard to get a job. I’ve had over 400 networking one-on-one calls, attended more than 100 webinars … I’ve jumped through hoops to get referrals that go nowhere.”

In response to the survey, we organized two teleconferences focusing on career-building and job-hunting. Part One on April 22 addressed job market challenges and how to change industries. It featured former travel buyer and now career coach Lea McLeod along with GBTA CEO Suzanne Neufang. Part Two, on May 13, centered on the job search as a journey. It included corporate travel virtuoso and PredictX EVP Maria Chevalier, who founded the volunteer job seekers group Corporate Travel Meetings & Events Search Party, and Nick Reid, co-founder of travel industry recruiting firm Travel Staff. In addition, we organized a May 5 Zoom roundtable featuring five of The 570 sharing their stories and offering tips and encouragement.

The written, audio and video content that follows is all outside our paywall, meaning subscribers and non-subscribers alike can read, listen and watch. If you like what you see, we’d appreciate if you would share it with your network.

Corporate Travel Pros Sidelined By Covid-19 Endure Marathons To Restart Careers

Professionals getting back on the road and again attending industry trade shows and events won’t see some familiar faces within the ranks of their peer network. Many of those who were forced into furloughs or endured layoffs due to the pandemic-caused economic collapse have since returned to work. A significant percentage of corporate travel workers, however, remain on the hunt for a job.

Employment Advisors To Seekers: It’s All About Relationships (w/Audio)

For millions of professionals who lost jobs during the global Covid-19 pandemic, unemployment can feel like standing outside the walls of a members-only event without an admission ticket. This may particularly be the case for those who were employed in travel, an industry with a mature workforce in which decades-long tenure is common and the median age is 46.

Five Of The 570: A Roundtable Discussion With Travel Industry Devotees (w/Video)

This is an abridged transcript, including video snippets, of The 570 Roundtable, a discussion among corporate travel industry professionals who met May 5, 2021, via Zoom to share personal stories and job-hunting tips and challenges. They wound up getting into what it really means to be part of the business travel community. The original transcript has been edited for clarity and brevity.

To Fill Millions Of Open Jobs, Many Workers Need More Than Skills

Rachelle Katchenago of Menasha, Wisc., lost her job as a call-center contract worker last year after the pandemic lockdowns took hold. No one was hiring. Katchenago, 37, eventually heard of career courses, paid for by Microsoft as part of a Covid relief program. She plunged in, learning online customer service and sales skills, hoping to improve her employment prospects.

Special Thanks
The Company Dime would like to thank these industry professionals for their help with this project: Mindy Berger, Maria Chevalier, Barbara Dirnberger, Mat Domaradzki, Shawn Kumar, Mick Lee, Lea McLeod, Daniel Nettuno, Suzanne Neufang, Jack Purdy, Nick Reid, Shawnda Witterstaetter, Suzanne Wolko and, of course, all members of The 570.

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