Arizona Office of Tourism

Case Study

A Nimble Response to Covid-19 Sets the Stage for Recovery

In early 2020, the Arizona Office of Tourism (AOT) hired Coraggio Group to develop their next three-year strategic plan. Within days of kicking off the project, the Covid-19 pandemic hit the globe and the US economy shut down, causing a devastating blow to travel & tourism worldwide.  After seeing the impacts of Covid-19 firsthand in Arizona, AOT quickly redirected the work with our firm to focus on identifying strategic actions to stabilize and accelerate the recovery of the state’s tourism industry, long considered a key driver of Arizona’s economy.

The Arizona Tourism Strategic Recovery Plan provides a focused roadmap for AOT and its many partners statewide as they move forward over the next 12-18 months. 

The process began with a series of facilitated virtual listening sessions with tourism industry stakeholders from urban and rural areas across the state. Specifically, we wanted to understand how business leaders felt about the future, what they were currently experiencing “on the ground” and what they needed from AOT as they began the long process of rebuilding their local tourism economies.  Participants represented all levels of government (local, state, federal, Tribal), multiple facets of tourism (accommodations, outdoor recreation, sports, attractions, food & beverage, retail, and tourism management), and voices from all corners of the state. The guidance provided was invaluable and culminated in a comprehensive report that synthesized our findings into key themes and provided needed context that would help to focus our planning efforts.

Following the listening sessions, our first step was to ensure alignment on what recovery looked like. We didn’t want to risk multiple definitions of success. With this in mind, we helped AOT’s planning team, which included both internal team members and external stakeholders, develop a vision statement that clearly articulated what stabilization and recovery would entail 12-18 months in the future. Using this agreed-upon “north star” as a backdrop, we then explored multiple macro-economic scenarios that might emerge in the coming months as a result of the pandemic. Once we were clear on which scenario presented the greatest probability of occurring, we then conducted a series of planning work sessions to explore strategic challenges and opportunities and finally establish the foundation of AOT’s Tourism Strategic Recovery plan.

After nearly seven weeks of hard work on behalf of a very dedicated AOT team, the plan was rolled out to several hundred industry stakeholders and partners at the Governor’s Conference on Tourism (held virtually) in July 2020.

In support of the implementation of the plan we then partnered with AOT to help establish internal urban and rural strategy teams that would lead dozens of targeted action steps, including monitoring the plan’s progress and, based on data-driven insights tied to the trajectory of the pandemic, recommend course-corrections over time as and if needed.

The success of this project started with the quick thinking of AOT’s leadership. They knew they were in uncharted territory and a very different kind of strategic plan was needed in order to stabilize the state’s travel & tourism industry. Because of their hard work and dedication, along with the guidance of hundreds of stakeholders statewide, Arizona will be recognized as national model for recovery. We’re grateful for the opportunity to be part of it.

To read the final deliverable: Arizona Tourism Strategic Recovery Plan.

“ With their years of travel industry experience and expertise, Coraggio was my first call for this critically important project. Coraggio absolutely delivered for Arizona’s tourism industry. Our team is excited about the implementation of this plan and I’d recommend them to any tourism organization needing an actionable strategic recovery plan. ”

— Debbie Johnson, Director, Arizona Office of Tourism