Why indeed. The team at RISE has been asked this question repeatedly – first, back in April 2020 when we aired our first episode of Season 1, until just this past week on the 18th January 2021 when we premiered the first episode of Season 3. Just as no one ever imagined 2020 (and possibly 2021) would be taken over by a global pandemic, RISE never imagined that this new concept – a weekly, global, uniquely personal, Travel, Tourism & Hospitality industry web-programme - would come this far and become so important to the industry.
How did RISE begin?
It all began when crisis brought two colleagues together out of a shared need to do something, anything, to help others in the industry make sense of the extensive, enduring damage being caused by COVID-19.
Anita Mendiratta feared greatly for not only the physical health of the people in the industry, but also their mental health, given the risk to their professions, aspirations and investments. Determined to do something, she reached out to Demian Hodari and together they decided to create a “Readiness for Recovery Series of Conversations” for students – a safe, trustworthy, fun place to regularly connect in order to “separate the news from the noise” surrounding COVID-19.
Why? To help people make informed decisions about their own careers, reducing their anxiety and keeping their hopes strong.
RISE did not set out to be “talking heads” or to provide answers or predictions. Rather, it saw the COVID-19 crisis as a live case study for which there are no answers, only questions, so they decided to explore this uncertainty together in a fresh, honest, personal and thoughtful way.
Interestingly, while the audience was originally intended to be students and recent graduates, RISE seems to have resonated with industry professionals as well - not only those recently furloughed or laid off, but also those trying to stay in touch with how their industry was evolving, where it might eventually settle, and what the implications on their jobs and careers might be. The first episode’s audience was in fact only 1/3 students – from over 30 institutions – and from people across over 50 countries.
Since day one of Season 1 until now, the purpose, structure and promise of RISE have remained consistent. It has also evolved over its 30 (and counting) episodes, featuring new segments, new C-Suite leaders as ‘Executive in Residence’ guests, new news (and noise).
Viewer surveys have helped finetune what is of most intel (and entertainment) value for audiences. Of particular value has been the week’s most interesting and important data and headlines, Demian and Anita’s personal concerns and confidences, and weekly conversations with Executives in Residence (fifty and counting from across the industry and world) who share their own experiences as they navigate our new world through each stage of the ‘next normal’.
Staying true to its promise of being for, with and about its viewers, RISE invites direct audience engagement. Viewer e-mails, texts and social media posts are as rewarding, if not more, than testimonials from the show’s guests. The web-programme has been a source of focus, momentum and motivation for Anita and Demian and their backstage team as much as for anyone else.
The Hospitality Industry continues to RISE through the pandemic and beyond
A surprise source of inspiration for viewers and the RISE team alike? How our industry has continued to take care of others through the COVID-19 crisis. Without question, our industry is amongst the hardest hit. And yet, it has also been one that has constantly stepped up for its employees, customers and even strangers, offering free meals and hotel rooms for health care and other essential workers.
At the local community level, the industry has supported the homeless and the quarantined, establishments serving as testing and vaccination centers, airlines delivering essential medicines and medical workers. The crisis may have challenged the hospitality sector’s operating models and growth projections, but its spirit of commitment to care remains strong.
RISE is a live web show discussing the Covid-19 crisis' impact on and implications for travel, tourism and hospitality. Hosted by Professor Demian Hodari of EHL and Anita Mendiratta, Special Advisor to the Secretary general, UNTWO.