Goodbye 2020, we will not miss you…
Dear Colleagues and friends,
For all the pain and misery that the pandemic has brought to our sector, 2020 is not a year that we will miss but its impact is long lasting and will be remembered for a long time.
As I write, we do not even know if, or when or how many more lockdowns we will have.
Next year is an opportunity to begin changing how our industry in Africa operates for the next 20 years. Looking closely at the trends that are already shaping our industry in the future, there are countless opportunities to kick-start that process of change. Remember that it is not changing for change’s sake. It is a change based on what is happening in technology, in society, and in what travel and tourism consumers want.
Like everyone, I want our growing industry in Africa (perhaps the fastest growing one worldwide) to be better and more prosperous. So, l would like to share some food for thoughts in 2020 that will help you chart a better path in 2021.
If you cannot do the business you do because of the pandemic, then use the time to focus on how you can innovate and craft the future of your business. Do not keep doing the things the way it was done before the pandemic because things will never be the same again and keeping doing the same things will lead you to the wall.
Digital technologies have been one of the pandemic’s biggest winners, and we expect their rapid uptake to continue accelerating in 2021.
Zoomie has overtaken roomie: In our industry International Trade Fairs WTM and ITB have embraced the concept of Virtual Trade Fairs and may have set the pace for an irreversible trend.
AirBnB did good business throughout the Pandemic. Is this an alarm-bell enough for us?
Whether it’s buying tickets, making bookings, checking in, up-selling, redeeming loyalty rewards and a hundred of other things, it is vital your customers’ digital journey, which will drive ever-more revenue, is as smooth, seamless, and swift as it can be. The easier and more enjoyable you make it for them to buy, the more they will.
Stop complaining that you are too small to afford technology. There is a whole bunch of software out there, some FREE and some on a pay-as-you go basis that can drastically, automate your business, increase efficiency, reduce cost, and provide that touchless experience your clients are looking for. Start the search now and you will be amazed.
The Solution: Imagine your perfect business and work backwards.
Customer Behaviour Trends
The landing page of AirBNB App currently has ‘Go Near’ as their Call To Action encouraging local stays. I was surprised to see the number of reviews of guests having used the properties recently.
Well-packaged local getaways will be another potential opportunity for growth in 2021.
Airlines & Flights
Businesses will be under immense pressure by Government and the wider society to reduce their carbon foot prints, including flights, and will be called upon to a bigger role in tackling the climate emergency. While some companies will use carbon offsetting as part of the pricing, we are a long way off from air travel being anything but bad for the environment, and people know this.
I will not be surprised if air travel gets the same treatment as smokers.
The challenge is on Travel Management Companies to come up with proposals that reverse this perception favourably in the public’s eyes.
Based on previous crisis, independent hotels often fare worse during difficult times as they have fewer financial and marketing resources. Plus, economies of scale tend to work against them. Not this time around. Big hotel chain trying to fill hundreds of rooms in a city center location are already being discarded by travellers.
Independent, family-run or boutique hotels often have an authenticity and uniqueness big hotels cannot compete with (as well as a rural setting).
Would you rather stay in a generic hotel with 500 guests or one with a capacity of 30 that offers a really personal experience, great food and plenty of fresh country air? Add to this the fact that you will have a sense of giving back to the local community through responsible travel.
How can we offer a greener and more sustainable travel experiences that will make our clients feel good about travelling and probably share their contribution to it proudly on social media platforms?
How can we develop the skills and expertise of people we work with, so they are better equipped to deal the demands of industry?
And how can we better serve our customers’ desires by creating different, richer, and more personalised and authentic travel and tourism experiences for them. And ultimately, how can we achieve more success for our own business?
These trends are already real and happening now in Africa.
One thing we can be sure of over the next 12 months is that things will change again and again.
Travel companies are going to have a tough 2021, but there is an opportunity for them to really help their customers make the right travel decisions.
After all, our job is to facilitate a seamless journey and, owing to the pandemic, there are now a lot more hurdles and roadblocks for travellers and holidaymakers. This presents an opening for travel agents to show their value like never before, by capitalising on their knowledge of different countries’ appetite for visitors, their uniqueness, travel restrictions and rules.
No longer is it just about asking a travel agent where a good place to go is. Travellers will want to know how to get there and back smoothly and safely – what to do while there and how they contribute to the destination.
Need a helping hand for automation of your operations, front, mid and back-end, please talk to us and we will be more than a happy to assist.
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