TOURISM. HOW TO THRIVE IN 2020 POST-COVID AND BEYOND
NO FLIGHTS, NO TRAVEL, NO TOURISM.
The lucrative business of gaining foreign influx in fiscal resources has molded the economic landscape of many nations over the years. As our world gets more globalized, it was a simple immutable fact that individuals and businesses alike would cross borders with increasing regularity. In a perfect world, this would also mean that they bring their wealth with them and drive tourism spending. Not so much in 2020. In hindsight, we should have known that in the event of a global pandemic, a worldwide shutdown and ban on travel would have been the likeliest event. Even Bill Gates, founder of Microsoft and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, has prophetically predicted this in a Ted Talk speech he gave way back in 2015. Full video of this can be found here. So many sectors are now suffering from the pandemic induced recession that it seems unlikely the situation could recover in the short term. Among those hits the hardest in this financial decline are the key players in the tourism industry; Hotels, F&B, Entertainment, just to name a few. Nowadays, it is sad to see beautiful resorts and beaches devoid of tourists or inquiries. According to Channel News Asia, the Casa Del Mar Resort in Langkawi has reported that although there were some inquiries since the lifting of the conditional movement control order (CMCO), it was still struggling to meet its occupancy levels. This is not an isolated case. Many other businesses have reported similar lows in occupancy. Others have even shuttered their doors. The News Straits Times has reported that as many as 15% of all hotels in Malaysia will face permanent closure; based on the reports filed by the Malaysian Hotels Association. With all the bad news aforementioned, things do seem bleak. As a world, we have never been here before. There really is nothing to compare it to. For the average worker, the average business owner, the next few months will be critical. People are already being laid off. There is no cash flow is being generated in many businesses. So what can a tourism-based business owner do under this overwhelming pressure?
ASSESS. ADAPT. SURVIVE.
As we move towards a more contactless society, you could imagine that there are many ways a digital ecosystem can integrate well into this new business environment. From vast improvements in contactless point of sale systems to advanced software solutions in helping you manage and boost bookings, doubling down on your marketing efforts is almost a no brainer. If you do not market your business during this very critical juncture, you may as well stop reading this and give up now. Often, what matters most is how your customers think. For example, most tourists are not only concerned about the pandemic. The majority of those who are making travel plans are also anxious about trip cancellations; causing them to eventually lose out money on flight tickets and pre-booked accommodations. Some may not even be there as a tourist, but on essential business trips. These are actually the markets you can appeal to. By focusing your marketing resources on creating targeted ads or campaigns to specifically cater to these audiences, you at least have a chance of reaching out to them and securing their visit. What we need at this juncture is an ACTIONABLE contingency plan. As international travel is becoming increasingly difficult, building a strong local community support system is vital to ensure your tourism business thrives through these difficult times. You should definitely design products and packages that appeal to locals as the entire industry may not see an influx in foreign tourists for some time yet. Operate your business on the basis that locals should help locals. Banding together and offering joint promotions with relevant businesses nearby is key to ensuring a successful local community collaboration. Despite some businesses being competitors, now is not the time to be insular. Having a slice of the pie is better than no pie at all. With social media, you can effectively co-promote your products and services to reach your desired target audience. Better yet, adding a creative twist to your campaigns can ensure sustainable exposure for all within your local community. Creating new partnerships now may be key to your business’s survival in the near future. Promoting travel packages using online platforms for smaller groups would be great at this time for catering to families. Focus your promotional design on appealing to the most basic social unit. Packages that provide private transportation and discrete accommodations for nuclear families would be in-line with the public held perceptions of social distancing. During this period of recovery from continuous lockdown restrictions globally, there has been a huge surge in consumption of digital content; anything ranging from news to homemade videos, and even to creatively crafted ads could trend for days. Use this to your advantage and showcase the creative side of your business. A well-worded slogan or captivating video can entice travelers to visit; or at the very least, keep your business at the forefront of consumer minds. These were just some ideas that can be expounded upon in regard to the state of the tourism industry. There exists a wide variety of powerful tools upon which you can rely on to make life that little bit easier in these uncertain times. Keep the faith. We are always rooting for you.