Advice from Travel and Hospitality Legal Operations Leaders on How to Address Pandemic Challenges

The U.S. Travel Industry estimates that travel spending is now 41% lower than last year at this time, representing a $9.1 billion loss. These losses are not a surprise, considering the rise of social distancing and stay-at-home orders. People have canceled vacation plans, including flights, hotels, cruises and more – resulting in $415 billion in cumulative losses for the U.S. travel economy. Restrictions resulting from the pandemic will have an even larger impact globally, with one study claiming that worldwide tourism revenues may take a $3.4 trillion hit.

Travel and hospitality legal departments face challenging times as their companies react, rethink and reset. Now more than ever is a time for legal operations professionals to connect and compare strategies and experiences.

On October 7, Onit and HBR Consulting held a virtual discussion with corporate legal department leaders in these industries to hear how they have been impacted by COVID-19, what changes they are planning for the short and long term and how lessons from this crisis will inform their approach to legal issues in the future.

The panelists, moderated by Kevin Clem, Chief Commercial Officer for HBR Consulting , included:

  • Fred Headon, Assistant General Counsel – Labour and Employment Law for Air Canada
  • Eric Kabot, Senior Associate Counsel of Royal Caribbean
  • Saumil Mehta, Senior Vice President and Assistant General Counsel of Gogo Air

The webinar, titled Checking in on Travel & Hospitality Legal Departments, is now available for on-demand viewing. It is one in a series of Onit’s online learning program for legal operations professionals called Lean Into LegalOps.

Pivots, Cross-Collaboration and More

No matter what impact the pandemic has on your company, the discussion offers valuable insight into navigating through unexpected changes.

Eric Kabot shared how Royal Caribbean’s corporate legal department has undergone staff reductions and now accomplishes more with fewer resources. As a result, the team has shifted from focusing on their respective functional areas prior to the pandemic to a cross-collaborative environment. Fred Headon of Air Canada described how they pivoted their business model on several fronts and how this change has affected the company and its legal operations. Saumil Mehta also said his company, Gogo Air, has changed course as well and emphasized the importance of partnerships and creativity in trying times. According to him, products from Onit helped when the pandemic hit – especially since they had to start working from home.

To hear more from the speakers, you can watch the recorded webinar here.

More Learning Opportunities for Corporate Legal Operations

Onit’s fall series for Lean Into LegalOps continues with more timely learning exchanges, including:

  • Virtual Legal Resourcing Debate with Buying Legal Council, where three debate teams present scenarios to their hypothetical general counsel, who has asked for options to reduce expenses related to outside counsel. (Wednesday, November 18 | 10:00 a.m. – 11:00 a.m. CST).
  • The GC’s Guide to Contracts and a Single Point of Truth, as Prosus explains its digitalization initiative and platform technology strategy to improve legal operations. (Thursday, December 10 |  2:00 p.m. BST / 8:00 a.m. CST)

You can register for these events and hear past ones here.

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