Molly Fergus: “Masks will go mainstream”

Going forward, sustainable travel should be the number one consideration for travelers and travel providers alike. Visiting the world’s wonders is now bittersweet. Alpine glaciers are melting, Venice is sinking, and the West Coast is on fire. It’s time for all of us to do something about it. As part of my series about “the future […]

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Going forward, sustainable travel should be the number one consideration for travelers and travel providers alike. Visiting the world’s wonders is now bittersweet. Alpine glaciers are melting, Venice is sinking, and the West Coast is on fire. It’s time for all of us to do something about it.

As part of my series about “the future of travel in the post-COVID world”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Molly Fergus, Vice President and General Manager of TripSavvy.

Molly has dedicated her career to the digital travel space. Before joining TripSavvy, she was an associate digital editor for Condé Nast Traveler, where she helped launch the magazine’s first proprietary website and an editorial assistant at Sherman’s Travel. Her first gig after college gave her the first-hand experience needed to work in travel: She spent a year driving across the country in the Oscar Mayer Wienermobile, living in hotels, and exploring the backroads of America. Her writing has also appeared in Self, Redbook, Women’s Wear Daily, and CNN.

Thank you so much for joining us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

It’s embarrassingly cliche: I was sitting at a cafe in Barcelona, during a semester studying abroad, jotting notes in a moleskin journal (please, groan with me). I knew I wanted to work in media, but I wasn’t sure which genre — fashion, food, and news all appealed. In a eureka moment, while sipping my coffee, I realized I could write about sitting in cafes drinking coffee.

Surprise, surprise, that’s a really common dream. But I didn’t let the competitiveness of the space intimidate me. I sought out every opportunity I could to write and travel, and I focused on this niche.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career?

You could say the start of my career was one long interesting story. For a full year, I drove the Oscar Mayer Wienermobile around the country, working as a spokesperson for the company. It was the perfect job to have right out of college. I knew I wanted to work in travel media, and the position paid me to travel full-time. I saw parts of the country I would never have visited otherwise, lived in hotels for a year, and became really, really good at packing a suitcase.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

I was covering a local election as a reporter for my college newspaper. At 10 p.m. one weeknight, rumor had it one candidate had dropped out. I had the campaign manager’s home number, so I called him endlessly until he finally picked up. “How dare you call me this late when I am in bed with my beautiful wife!” he bellowed at me on the phone. I was 18 and horribly embarrassed — but I got the quote and learned to always be persistent in this field.

Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”? Can you share a story about that?

We’ve all heard this before, but it’s true: take your vacation days! Everyone needs to disconnect and recharge, even if you can’t travel far. I’ll also offer a piece of advice that I’m bad at following: add in a buffer day or two at home when you get back from a big trip. You’re asking for more burnout if you get home late on Sunday night, log into work the next morning, and stare bleary-eyed at an overflowing inbox.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?

At the University of Missouri, I worked in the communications department for the college of education. It was an excellent part-time gig that gave me hands-on writing & editing experience. But the best part was the day I peeked into my manager’s office and saw…a giant stuffed Wienermobile. My boss had driven the Wienermobile early on in her career; she introduced me to the program and helped me through the entire application process. My career might have taken a completely different path without that first job!

Thank you for that. Let’s jump to the core of our discussion. Can you share with our readers about the innovations that you are bringing to the travel and hospitality industries?

There is too much travel information on the web. Sifting through strangers’ reviews is time-consuming, and physical guidebooks can be outdated and unreliable. TripSavvy publishes travel advice from locals who are experts on their hometowns, and our editors work around-the-clock to keep that information fresh, factual, and relevant.

As you know, COVID19 changed the world as we know it. Can you share 5 examples of how travel and hospitality companies will be adjusting over the next five years to the new ways that consumers will prefer to travel?

  1. We’ll make reservations for everything: To allow for social distancing, many museums, tourist attractions, and even ski resorts are requiring visitors to make ticketed reservations. It’s a necessity today, but should be a trend that sticks — after all, who doesn’t want to feel like they have a ski mountain all to themselves?
  2. Contactless hotel rooms are here to stay: More and more hotels are outfitting their rooms with voice-operated command systems, so you’ll never have to touch a hotel remote control again. Thank goodness.
  3. Masks will go mainstream: I wouldn’t be surprised if mask-wearing becomes standard on public transit and airplanes for years to come — even after COVID-19 is less of a risk. Most of us have taken a long flight and wound up getting sick a few days into a vacation. If masks offer another layer of protection that could keep you healthy while away, then why not wear one?
  4. Outdoor dining becomes standard: New York City just announced that its expanded outdoor dining program will be a permanent program, even after the pandemic, and I think we’re going to see that trend across the country. Who doesn’t like eating outside on a nice night?
  5. Business travel will make a slow recovery: Remote work culture means that business travel might never be the same. Not all meetings need to be in person, and it will take a while before we are all comfortable with large conferences and networking events again.

You are a “travel insider”. How would you describe your “perfect vacation experience”?

My favorite formula for a day on vacation is: pick one activity, plan one meal, and leave the rest to chance. It’s easy to over plan a trip, bouncing from museum-to-monument and checking off everything on that must-see list. If you don’t leave room for some spontaneity, you’ll miss out on the sense of discovery that leads to the best memories — the hole-in-the-wall restaurant you stumbled into or the sunset you caught on the beach. On the flip side, if you under plan and don’t make time for the sights you consider essential, you’ll feel like you missed out. Find that happy medium.

Can you share with our readers how have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?

This is incredibly cheesy, but traveling makes the world a better place. The more we learn and understand about the people around us, the more likely we are to approach others with compassion. I’m lucky my job helps people travel!

You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. ☺

Going forward, sustainable travel should be the number one consideration for travelers and travel providers alike. Visiting the world’s wonders is now bittersweet. Alpine glaciers are melting, Venice is sinking, and the West Coast is on fire. It’s time for all of us to do something about it.

How can our readers follow you on social media?

Instagram @mollyfergus

This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!

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