Needless to say 2020 has not been kind to the folks that work in hospitality, live events and tourism. I've spent my entire career in this niche. Tourism is really fed by hoards of people coming to town for major events and conferences. They don't come because they enjoy the local Holiday Inn Express or Super 8, they're there because something is going on that creates the necessity for an overnight stay. Restaurants depend on both locals and visitors coming to their restaurants with consistency. Live events, namely concerts, festivals and sports depend on their turnstiles for their revenue. If they're interesting enough, they might create some TV or online viewership revenue. However, these industries are battered and bruised right now, even as you see other industries essentially go untouched or even thrive in the current conditions. We have no idea when the hard news will let up. Those that haven't largely been impacted financially have a responsibility to help thy neighbor.
Shop and Eat Local
Whenever you pull through the drive-through of McDonalds, hit the buy button on Amazon or pick up a few groceries at Wal-Mart you aren't helping your local economy. Sure, they might pay some people enough to barely get by and pay their local taxes, but the bulk of their revenue is going elsewhere. You should look to eat at non-chain stores that are locally owned, employ local people and keep their money in their community.
Figures that I've heard from a variety of studies is 55%-80% of revenue stays local when you shop local, while 8%-15% stays local when you shop at a major chain store. The publicly traded major chains can shoulder the swings and the smartest communities limit their entry to the market to begin with. If you're a big proponent of "Made in the USA" do it one better. Drive by Target and Wal-Mart and put your money where your mouth is and buy local.
Buy Gift Certificates
Restaurants and locally owned stores need revenue now to cover rent, utilities and whatever staff they have left. They are frustrated by wild swings in occupancy limits and regulations sometimes with little or no runway to implement them. Just because a store's capabilities are limited doesn't mean the bills stop coming in the mail. If you love that restaurant or store because you can walk in and shake the owner's hand support it today. Don't wait until "things get better." Personally, I might go to a chain restaurant once every other week, but 80%+ of my restaurant spend stays in the local community. I love going to farmer's markets and small stores to see what kind of neat items they have. You aren't seven people removed from the maker of the good, but often chatting with them in person. You also get a feel for your destination in a way that a major chain's sterile environment won't ever give you.
Buy Merchandise from Local Sports Teams
Minor league sports and small universities are struggling mightily right now. Teams are getting cut, spectators are being left on the outside and some minor league baseball teams are never coming back. You might not be able to attend their games and they might not have a TV deal, but buy some mechandise from their websites. Not Amazon or Dick's Sporting Goods, but their own in-house websites. Also, if you can lock in future season ticket packages or voucher books do so. Buy gift cards that can be used in the park at a future date. If you care to see those teams remain a part of your community in the future, support them today.
Take a Driving Trip
When I say take a trip it is quite possible to go for a 3-4 hour drive somewhere and not encounter large crowds. Book a room or a campsite at a new location you've wanted to visit or an old favorite. If you're worried about leaving the state, then don't. There is plenty to explore in your own back yard.
Go to stores and restaurants that you can't go to at home (read: Olive Garden and Cracker Barrel) to get a unique experience. Give those businesses positive reviews online. The hotel industry is absolutely cratered right now and you can have your own private room and bathroom on any trip you're on. You probably won't get any better prices and ability to opt-out of a trip than you do right now. But.......
Wear Your Mask
This is simple. Wear your mask and avoid crowds as much as you can. Anyone can do it. What's the risk-reward to borrow from Machiavelli's "The Prince"? The potential reward is saving hundreds of thousands of lives and the sanity of the healthcare community with the risk of wearing a piece of fabric and avoiding hanging out in crowds. It's not hard. The risk of the inconvenience is well worth the potential reward.
About the Author
Andy Rupert is a Penn State (B.A. John Curley Center for Sports Journalism 08') and a Southern Miss (M.S. Sport Management 09'). He has spent his whole career working in sports and tourism digital marketing and metrics.