‘Play Defense And Offence In Parallel’
From here on, expanding by way of evolving would sustain. However, expansion using yesterday’s playbook is a high-risk venture.
We are officially in “Move or be Moved” era. The speed of change has been drastic and will continue to be so. If we wait to see how it all pans out, we’ll be too late. Given the economic recession ahead, the hospitality industry is bound to undergo consolidation. This should hopefully clear some brand clutter in such a crowded marketplace. There is a heightened need for clarity, simplicity and transparency in brand promise. “Me too” players will be challenged to rethink their approach. I believe tomorrow’s market would provide an opportunity for individual, unique and authentic experiences.
My take is simple. From here on, expanding by way of evolving would sustain. However, expansion using yesterday’s playbook is a high-risk venture. Evolution in challenging status quo and closely reviewing every facet of the hospitality business is critical. Consumers will not be driven by new motivations. Market segments will undergo a drastic change. Channels of business would shift. Concept of consumer perceived value will change.
The role of technology will be more important than ever, in the post-pandemic world. It is fair to say that the technology embrace curve has been fast-forwarded by at least 5 years. Until a few months ago, hotel companies could take their time in slowly adopting new technology. They would now need to demonstrate early embrace and a quick stride going ahead. Technology will continue to be a critical enabler of health and hygiene assured travel experiences. We are sure to see some remarkable innovations in this space. Travel and related tech makes for a great investment avenue for existing and new tech companies.
Hotels, Hospitality and the great Travel ecosystem at large have been officially rebooted. It’s not a matter of one's choice, it is just how it is and every company within this ecosystem has to respond. Those who embrace change and evolve to the next marketplace will win. Good Health, Hygiene, Safety and Sanitation practices have always been a part of hospitality DNA. This pandemic has only upgraded their importance and put them at the very top of the list. End consumers, as well as business partners, would view these as one of the most important purchase decision criteria. Sustainability will be more important than ever. It will acquire a central spot, around which forward thinking hotel brands will develop their business philosophy and commercial model.
Speed of response is key. In an unprecedented situation like what we are currently experiencing, no one has past experience or perfect answers. My message is to play Defense and Offence in parallel, with dedicated teams that work on an evolving process, responding and adapting quickly. Don’t let great be the enemy of good. In commercially challenging times like these, we have to agree to experiment in real-time and accept the fact that not all that we do won’t succeed, however, we must keep at it till we succeed. Small acts of control is how to take control of a bigger picture.
Health Passport might become a reality soon. It’s a good way to ensure the health and facilitate hassle-free travel for healthy folks. There will be a huge focus on personal space. Ranging from air travel, hotels, restaurants & bars, shopping, entertainment or local experiences, ensuring a minimum of personal space will be a priority. This is good, as it would lend an upgraded sense of experience.
In keeping with the thought of Sustainability, destinations providing a unique local cultural experience with a clear commitment towards environment and community are likely to emerge as winners. Such destinations too need to ensure sound health and hygiene practices. COVID-19 might have been the trigger, however, the world was anyways moving in this direction very quickly.
Bouncing Back In New Avatar
Travel on the other side of the pandemic will be healthier and certainly more cherished. I sincerely believe that travel has matured to a point of not being seen as an optional, for a very large number of folks around the world. Many of us see it as our connecting to the world. For many, it’s the best form of education, inspiration and even therapy. This crisis has made many of us recognize that community matters over material pursuits in life. Travel builds communities, it brings people together and breaks barriers. In this spirit, it is sure to bounce back, albeit perhaps in a new avatar.
Millennials for sure, and now even Gen Z will cast a huge influence on travel trends of tomorrow. Business travel will be on the essential basis and will be all about efficiency. This crisis surely accelerated the learning curve for all of us in terms of leaning on technology to make business more efficient and cost-effective. Leisure experiential travel will bounce back in its new avatar. In today's world, travel for this segment amounts to education, self-expression and connecting with the world. It ignites a unique sense of inspiration that can't really be substituted by anything else. Think about it.
About the author
The author is Executive Vice President of Preferred Hotels & Resorts for South & South Asia, Middle East, Africa, and Australasia region.Visit the Author page >>
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