It’s All about Sustaining in this Phase of Uncertainty

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The coming few months will be critical for service providers in the travel industry-they will either survive or perish. The recovery time is however dependent on various parameters and exact timelines from now cannot be drawn. Traditional travel companies may need to rescale, upscale as per new requirement fulfilments.

Recent researches have shown the possibility of tourism revival with full throttle, in the coming few months, domestic tourism to start with. The recovery time is however dependent on various other parameters and exact timelines from now cannot be drawn. Most of the countries are still in the maze of the “COVID-19 surgency and recovery” cycle, and hence travel demand is proportioning dramatically. Domestic leisure travel has seen few crests and troughs in the recent past, International travel is however a distant dream.

Undoubtedly leisure-focused long haul international vacations to be one of the most desired activities, but the opening of international borders depends entirely upon factors like caseloads and speed of vaccination at the country of origin and destination, earning propensity of the potential travellers and few others.

To capture the demand for domestic clients, ease of transaction by using digital means by service providers (Hotels/ Travel companies/Airlines) be the key. Flexible cancellation policies, date change possibilities without penalty, value additions could be few motivators for the potential travellers to decide on the suppliers for the next itinerary.

International Air Transport Association (IATA) conducted a study in 11 countries with 4700 respondents revealed that 57 percent of them expected to be travelling within two months of the pandemic’s containment, and 72 percent will do so as soon as they can meet friends and family.

In the United States, air travel has hit two million daily passengers, closer to the pre-pandemic level of around 2.5 million than to the low of around 90,000, in April 2020.


THE CHALLENGE MOST OF THE SERVICE PROVIDERS MAY FACE:

  • How to sustain financially till the time recovery happens!!! There is a huge cash flow crunch in big, medium, or small companies associated with the tourism and travel sector.
  • How to get the skilled labour back who have switched the industry after laying off!! Capacity building in a service industry is a lengthy qualitative task. Afterall “making or breaking” of customer experiences depends majorly on services delivered by them at ground zero. A service delivery failure can bring a bad name to the service provider, be it an airline, hotel, or travel agency.
  • How to build a “suitable future product” amidst changing consumer behaviour!! New areas of interest like sustainable tourism, eco-tourism, wildlife tourism, niche tourism etc. all may take the front seat. Travel companies may need to optimise the cost of such products, whereas hotels and other service providers need to adhere to strict quality/ Health & safety protocols to cater for the tourist demand in this sector?
  • Proactive government support: it may look brighter on paper however no one can deny the hind side. While this industry is dominated by private players, govt need not be a player in the game but to act as a referee. More synergy with private players is required to get the results in practicality !!
  • Traditional travel companies may need to rescale, upscale as per new requirement fulfilments. The business forecasting and performance has to be as per the new set of requirements/expectations of travellers in post COVID era. More product innovation is required to supplement the core skill set of the company.

Subject to COVID-19 recovery stages across the globe, short-haul leisure travel to be on the rise, while corporate travel may take time to recover. Airlines, hotels, car rentals may get most of the benefits. Putting safety protocols in implementations could be a tough task. The flip side is – one small negligence may have multiple adverse effects.
The coming few months will be critical for service providers in the travel industry-they will either survive or perish. Let’s be hopeful for the former one and we should see the industry booming just like it was before December 2019 period.

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