By Vince Bond
April 26, 2021
In between hikes on a beautiful island, lemur feedings, kayaking and tennis with a billionaire, ideas flowed for a group of dealers on how to better run their businesses.
With the NADA Show limited to the virtual realm this year because of the pandemic, marketing company Digital Air Strike gathered dealership and business clients last month for a getaway in the British Virgin Islands. They stayed on Necker Island, owned by British business mogul Richard Branson — who held a question-and-answer session with the group during their visit.
The months long application process included a series of background checks. The 43-person collective had to adhere to an array of pandemic protocols for the trip, including four COVID-19 tests and a contact-tracing system while wearing a government-issued wristband with location monitoring.
The heavily tested attendees were able to have a reprieve from wearing masks.
“It was really amazing, just the amount of things you could do,” Digital Air Strike CEO Alexi Venneri said. “Very inspiring.”
Venneri said the company will bring more dealers to the island this fall and has already booked a getaway for next year at Branson’s Morocco estate.
Kevin Cravo, sales director of Royal Automotive Group in Tucson, Ariz., said he walked away from the island with many nuggets of useful advice.
“With COVID, it had been probably 18 to 24 months since I’d really been entrenched in any type of 20 groups, so just to be free on the island — no mask and have the free-flowing ideas — I’ve got pages and pages of notes. There’s a lot of stuff that we’ve brought back and started to implement into our stores.”
Matt Johnson, owner of Holiday Auto Group in Whitesboro, Texas, took home a priceless memory. He got to square off with Branson in a friendly set of tennis.
“Not too many people can say that they did that,” Johnson said. “And I beat him 6-4.”