As the novel coronavirus 2019-nCoV continues to spread across the globe, the travel industry has taken a hit. In an attempt to curb transmission, the World Health Organisation has issued a ‘do not travel’ advisory for China, and more commercial airlines have suspended or services in and out of the country.
Outside of China, too, many companies and individuals are cancelling or postponing travel plans for fear of being infected, with the travel industry losing millions of dollars as a result. Inbound travel to countries such as Singapore, Japan, Thailand and Vietnam is being heavily impacted by the lack of outbound travel from China, which poses the question: how can hotels and other travel companies minimise the long-term impact of the virus?
- Slash prices: whilst it can be tempting to try and out-price, it’s vital that luxury hotels remember that the outbreak is temporary, and will not last forever. Lowering rates is damaging to brand equity and positioning, and can be detrimental in the long run
- Believe fake news: tabloid press and social media tend to indulge mass hysteria in times of crisis, and it’s vital for companies to remain calm and avoid speculation. Refer to the World Health Organisation and the local authorities for reliable updates
- Overreact or underprepare: whilst hysteria and panic will be detrimental, it’s also important to have contingency plans in place, so these are ready to implement if required. Consider the potential repercussions on operations should the situation worsen and be prepared to respond
- Appeal to the local market: with business and leisure travel being largely kept to a minimum, it’s important to address the local market in the immediate future, who are likely to be seeking new experiences closer to home
- Plan ahead: it’s important to have a crisis communications system prepared in case of worst-case scenario, including social media responses, media statements, and guest communications
- Strategise for recovery: use this time to relook at your 2020 Marketing Strategy so that you are ready to actively promote your brand when the time is right. People’s general attitudes towards travel are likely to have altered, so now is a time to reassure and inspire
A version of this has been featured on PR Week.
Last night, V&VPR attended the annual Skift Megatrends event which looked into the future of travel in 2020. As the travel industry’s premier intelligence brand, Skift deciphered and defined trends for the coming year. Here are this year’s key themes:
For years, the travel industry has known that its next big opportunity is Gen Z, as they are a travel-savvy generation and research shows that they are heavily involved in trip planning. This year, many of them are entering adulthood and will soon have the money and autonomy to take control of their own trips and companies need to make sure they entice them through environmentally friendly and sustainable practices. Therefore, the travel industry should be leaning towards transformative travel that gives back to the environment; for example, Dutch airline KLM’s ‘fly responsibly’ campaign, which encouraged customers to invest in its carbon-offset scheme, pack lighter, and even consider flying less!
New concepts of urban living will start to evolve in 2020, ensuring cities are even more attractive destinations for both working, living and visiting. And so, hospitality brands need to rethink the role they play for both visitors and residents. Mixed-use developments that include restaurants, shops, offices, hotels and rental spaces are becoming increasingly popular as they provide a compelling experience for both residents and tourists – offering visitors a true ‘local experience’.
Customer loyalty means more than simply giving them rewards, today it has evolved with consistent engagement, and so travel is evolving to embrace a membership model that touches on aspects of a traveler’s life beyond their trip. This year the travel industry will aim to engage guests through experiences that tie into emerging and existing lifestyles through subscriptions and memberships that put the customer first, such as loyalty programmes, to create lasting relationships with consumers.
Tourism boards and destination marketers are increasingly aiming to protect and not just promote destinations. Sustainable tourism has now come to mean tourism that local residents and stakeholders feel good about and increasingly, the travel industry is striving to ensure this. Skift predicts this shift will happen through the use of technology, data and participation in order to improve a traveller, and residents, experience of a destination whilst ensuring preservation.
It was an incredible night of learning and networking, and we look forward to Skift Forum Asia happening in our home base of Singapore later this year.