Recognizing that they always need to be prepared — both the people traveling and the companies welcoming travelers from all over the world. Companies will want to offer more resources than ever before.
As part of my series about “developments in the travel industry over the next five years”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Beth Tofel of FootprintID.
Between raising her own children and helping to enhance the lives of children in the community, FootprintID®’s President and Co-Founder has been on the frontlines when it comes to knowing what parents need and want to increase their peace of mind. She has spent the last 15 years in leadership positions for organizations that focus on the needs and safety of all children.
Day camp and sleep-away camp, sports teams, teen tours, driver’s licenses, college, she has been through all of this with her 22-year old daughter and 19-year old son. She knows what it feels like to be apart from your child and the ability to be “first on the scene to make decisions about their medical care”. She has also traveled extensively, both domestically and internationally, including remote locations. These experiences further confirm her belief that access to health records is invaluable.
As part of the “sandwich generation”, nestled between caring for her own children, and participating in managing the medical and health conditions of her aging parents, she also understands the benefits of health information and medical history at your fingertips, at all stages of life.
Thank you so much for joining us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
The combination of things happening and meeting people by chance, and the experiences I’ve had in my life. My personal pain points helped me understand that there was actually a void in the market that could help people. Through the relationships I’ve made both personally and professionally, I was able to both identify the gap and work with a trusted partner to help develop the technology to fill it. Living the experience of having health challenges and crises in my family showed me that people really need to be able to have a portable health record that could potentially save their life. Today, I’m working through health issues with my family and I’ve been using my own product in real time to help solve those challenges and help us navigate the situation.
In 2010, I was planning a safari trip and two weeks before, my daughter had to have an emergency appendectomy. During that time, I kept thinking about what would have happened if that occurred while we were abroad. In an emergency situation, I wanted to make sure my daughter would have the best medical care possible. It was a crazy revelation for me in hindsight that, combined with the incidents from above, helped me realize what I needed to do moving forward and that I really needed to create this product for other people going through the same things.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career?
Joining the travel community has been really exciting for me. I’ve been part of groups that connect people who need resources and they help the entire community develop and move forward. I went to an event and met the CEO and he had just recently met with a company that is now a client, and that’s how we landed our first major partnership. It was also my first experience learning how powerful the travel community is and how, ultimately, building relationships and partnerships in this industry has helped us all survive the changing landscape. The experience of seeing how this is all playing out for us, from landing our first partnership to seeing our tool is actually helping users in real time has been so exciting. It’s such a wonderful thrill and experience to see something I developed come to life and impact people.
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;m not sure if this was an actual mistake, but when I first started I joined a local networking group and was asked to do my first elevator pitch. When I think back, I was so nervous. I now look back on it and realize how far I’ve come and I could confidently present to much larger groups. My initial fears about talking about the product and our solution is funny to me now that I look back on it and I see how I shouldn’t have been scared at all. Back then, I didn’t sleep for like three days before the presentation, and now it comes to me much more easily.
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?
By nature, the two conflict. We have to have time to disconnect. It can be really difficult at first, especially if it’s something you’re so passionate about. Taking time for yourself is like working a muscle, it takes time and practice, but it’s so important to keep yourself healthy.
We have to get over the fear of the “no” or the nay-sayers. If you really believe in what you’re doing, keep forging forward. That’s a huge piece of it. The fear can cause burn out and can really get in the way of what you’re trying to do. Speaking to the example above, the fear of speaking in front of a large group of people made me lose sleep for several days, which over time, could really burn me out. I needed to learn — and have now learned — to perfect these things over time and to not let my own head get in the way.
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?
I’m not sure if I could point to one person, but what I can point to is the solid, core relationships you build both personally and professionally along the way. There will always be a small handful in both groups that will encourage you to power forward. My best friend used to say to me “no quitting. You have something here, it’s just going to take time.” To have people that will offset when you feel discouraged and remind you when it’s not so easy to remind yourself — that has been key to me.
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?
We are empowering the traveler to be in control and in charge of their medical and health information wherever they are. Our technology is a personal, portable health record that’s available anywhere in the world, online or offline. In the event of a medical or other emergency, health records are quickly and easily available to medical providers or caretakers to help them give proper care. It can also reduce the time to care and reduce costs associated with medical care.
Not only does this benefit the traveler, it enhances the duty of care program /considerations of any travel or hospitality provider and gives better resources to physicians or other medical providers who may be working to save your life. Especially if you’re unable to speak, like for example if you were on a ventilator because of COVID-19 and couldn’t communicate your previous health history, it might take the hospital staff hours to look up your prior records and be able to provide proper care or administer the right medications. With our tool, this isn’t a factor because your entire health history is available at your fingertips, but secured in a way that maximizes the safety of your important information.
Which “pain point” are you trying to address by introducing this innovation?
We are helping to solve the issue associated with lack of easy and timely access to your relevant medical information when away from home. I talked about it above, but there are so many pain points associated with not being able to get proper care for yourself or for your loved ones when they need it. Especially in the case of an emergency, and especially if you’re traveling abroad where you’re not interacting with your typical doctor or you’re interacting with emergency health providers. Saving that time can really mean the difference between life and death, and it’s so important to have, for peace of mind or for actually saving your life.
How do you envision that this might disrupt the status quo?
Travelers have realized the importance of being prepared. We are a mobile society and desire to travel. However, there is increased health literacy surrounding the realization that sometimes health issues can occur when away from home, whether mild or acute, and that having your information can be critical. It will disrupt the status quo by moving the needle from reactive to proactive in terms of this kind of preparation. With COVID-19, the importance of our health and wellbeing is more important than ever, and I think people all over the world are realizing that the status-quo has been disrupted no matter what. Now that we’re living in a “new normal”, there is no better time to make a change and implement something in your life, like downloading our app, that could quickly and easily make a big difference. It’s only now that millions more people all over the world can see an immediate, actionable example because we’ve all been living with and dealing with the pandemic.
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?
- Recognizing that they always need to be prepared — both the people traveling and the companies welcoming travelers from all over the world. Companies will want to offer more resources than ever before.
- Increasing touchless and app based solutions — more companies will be implementing touchless and app based experiences to their operational and business models where they didn’t exist before
- Enhancing all aspects of duty of care programs — companies are adding these types of programs if they didn’t have them before and/or enhancing them if they did have a program, to make it more comprehensive
- Travel companies will be adding additional excursions that incorporate more options for smaller groups, maintaining flexible rescheduling options, and enhancing all inclusive trips (could be luxury train travel, all inclusive wellness, adventure). Organizations all over the world will be offering the ability to work from wherever you are as remote work will remain and allow for longer “travel” time for employees.
- Companies will offer more meaningful travel/experiences, those that really benefit the traveler and make an impact
You are a “travel insider”. How would you describe your “perfect vacation experience”?
Really, one where I feel safe and secure the entire time. That allows me to be present and not worry about things I can’t control, because I know I’m taken care of — and my family would be taken care of — if something happened while we are abroad. Having that peace of mind really enhances the experience. I’ve been all over the world and have experienced all kinds of cultures and can say, from experience, that nothing ruins the perfect vacation like a medical emergency.
Travel is not always about escaping, but about connecting. Have you made efforts to cultivate a more wellness driven experience? We’d love to hear about it.
As a product and a company, we’re really committed to sustainability. I’m not sure if this is what you meant by “wellness” but for me, doing what we can to operate sustainably helps us cultivate a more wellness-driven experience for us and for our users. I think the way we give peace of mind also really helps us foster wellness; emotional wellbeing is so important when it comes to traveling.
Can you share with our readers how you have used your success to bring goodness to the world?
We are working on a passion project now where we will bring FootprintID to some foster care programs, which will allow a child who may be moved from home to home with the ability to have their medical and health records easily follow them. We hope that this will create better health outcomes for those children and help to ease some of the challenges with transition.
This entire company — the product itself and everyone involved in it — is about bringing goodness into the world. Through peace of mind and/or saving a life. If our tool saves just one life, it will have brought more goodness into the world than I could ever imagine.
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. 🙂
My entire mission at this point is to start the movement of personal portable health records. Helping people understand their importance, their function, and how they should be properly implemented. I truly want to help as many people as possible.
How can our readers follow you on social media?
This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!