The COVID-19 pandemic has undoubtedly rocked the world, with travel and tourism a major engine of global growth accounting for 10% of the global economy, one of the hardest-hit industries. The epidemic has in its wake created serious domino effects in the ecosystem; not only the major airlines or hotel chains concerned, but also the 80% of the tourism sector made up of small accommodation providers plus peripheral services associated with tourism, including food and drink, cleaning service providers, local tour guides and transportation. With the latest forecast from the World Travel and Tourism Council that up to 75 million jobs will be at risk, the question arises: will the industry recover?
The answer is yes, but it will take all hands on deck, and strong collaboration between all parties.
Government support is crucial
The travel industry supports one in 10 jobs of the global workforce in Asia-Pacific, the Americas and Europe, and accounts for 13.3% of total employment in South Asia -East. Governments can and do play a vital role in supporting industry to protect people’s livelihoods and, in turn, lead to economic recovery. Several governments have already announced stimulus plans to cushion the impact of the epidemic. This funding is proving crucial for the travel industry to maintain short-term business continuity, but on top of that, collaboration and cooperation with key industry players is important to help spur a sustainable recovery. in this sector. And the industry didn’t wait for the smoke to clear to start such conversations. For example, governments have already started working with key players and SMEs to develop and promote new transparent safety and health standards in tourism-related businesses, which will be crucial in restoring confidence to travelers. Tourism departments and Destination Marketing Organizations (DMOs) can partner with Online Travel Agents (OTAs) to inspire the desire to travel and attract travelers to destinations across their markets in a way sustainable, which supports communities outside of key tourist destinations that have also been affected by COVID-19[FEMININECesplates-formesdevoyagenumériquesavecleurvasteportéeetleursoutilsdemarketingserventdepontpouraiderlesOGDàatteindrelespublicsdevoyagesnationauxetinternationauxtandisquelesOGDpeuventencouragerlaplanificationdefutursvoyagesenfinançantdesincitationsauxvoyageurstandisquelespropriétésoffrentdesannulationsflexibles
Role of industry players
Agile travel players can seize the opportunity to improve their offer and develop new capabilities, by preparing for the resumption of travel. In fact, recent guidelines from the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) to help the global tourism sector reopen smoothly and safely, have underscored the importance of innovation and technology to strengthen industry resilience. Accommodation providers, airlines and tour operators need to be responsive to changing expectations of travelers, which may look very different after the pandemic. Innovation to anticipate these changing needs is essential, and identifying solutions that prioritize security and flexibility now during downtime will go a long way in rebuilding trust.
Agoda.com research shows travelers expect more from their travel experience in the 2020s thanks to technological advances improving efficiency and ease of booking and travel. In fact, aside from improving payment options and booking processes, one in two Southeast Asians predict that mobile app check-in will become the norm in hotels or vacation homes this decade. This desire may be even more prevalent for post-COVID travel, as people may demand contactless processes wherever possible.
In addition, hoteliers and airlines, for example, are reviewing and updating their cancellation policies and procedures to align with new traveler expectations. These updates will likely include more flexible booking options, using data analytics to better examine occupancy levels and demand-driven pricing strategies, as well as working with different distribution channels to reach travelers. with their accommodation offers or their flight offers. Other actors, such as credit card networks and banks, also have a role to play and can help by promoting safe travel campaigns.
More importantly, across the travel ecosystem, all parties must work in tandem to not only align the terms of these new policies and strategies, but also coordinate across campaign themes and times, which makes it easier and more attractive for travelers to plan and book their trip. . OTAs are well positioned and equipped to connect these players – DMOs, hotels, airlines, activity providers and other support partners – to a wider consumer audience.
Travelers also have a role to play
Finally, travelers feed the sector. People will want to travel again, exploring the beauty of the world on their doorstep and beyond, although we expect the pace of the travel industry recovery to differ across the globe. However, without the collective understanding of responsible travel once governments begin to lift travel restrictions, the recovery process will be slow and arduous.
Agoda’s survey of the next decade found that more than 25% of people want to make more eco-friendly travel choices in the next decade. The pandemic may make us think even more about sustainable travel; travelers may become more aware of the impact of their decisions and habits, which may lead to seeking more eco-friendly hotels or choosing destinations in less visited secondary cities to help spread tourism dollars and to rebuild local communities.
Travel has been one of the fastest growing industries and over the years we have found the industry to be crisis resistant. The desire of people to travel will not be stifled. However, returning tourists and restoring confidence in travel will require new approaches and collaboration. Like the story of the bundle of sticks, where a single stick can be easily broken but not when held in a bundle, it will take a collaborative effort of all players to come out of it together and reinvigorate the travel industry. in a safe and sustainable manner. .