Understandably, there is fear right now for people to travel. I don’t need to write about the statistics here but the pandemic is still raging on and not yet under control globally. That’s quite sad as the tourism industry and the people working in the industry are the ones hugely impacted. But, some countries are doing better than others. And, for its part, the Philippines is bravely doing its part in containing the pandemic.
Awesome DOT effort
Kudos really goes to the leadership of the Philippine Department of Tourism. We, on the sidelines, are really seeing a lot of proactive actions to help revive tourism and help the people depending on it for their livelihood.
Recently, the DOT conducted a survey (12,000 respondents) to better understand what’s going on in the minds of domestic travelers. It is hoped that the insights from the survey would help provide a pathway to gradual recovery.
- Majority prefer to travel locally and closer to home. - Majority are conscious about the travel cost given the economic uncertainty - Majority are concerned about their health and safety (paramount concern) - Majority prefer online booking travel arrangements, contactless check-in and digital payment
The above makes a lot of sense. People will still crave to travel. It is human nature. But, of course, people will not take the risk of going to far-off places as the risk of getting the virus goes up exponentially. So, most would go local. A lot of people actually hold-off travelling close by. There’s an “It’s close by, we can go there anytime” syndrome that’s quite rampant. So, what we have right now, probably provides the best time for these folks that held off going to local places to actually go and visit.
For most businesses, the pandemic really accelerated the rush to go digital. If you are in Linkedin, you’ve probably seen a lot of talk from companies on how quickly the pandemic made them adopt and execute a digital plan. Companies were able to move a majority of their staff to work from home in like 1 to 3 weeks (that’s one mean feat!). Thanks to broadband internet, zoom and other digital tools, we saw that it’s all possible. This acceleration towards online and digital work will probably be one of the lasting (and good) legacy of this pandemic we are having right now.
Cash is no longer King
In the Philippines, the use of cash needs to be lessened by a big margin. Digital payment will need to be ushered and promoted. This is going to be a dual effort between the government and private sector. And, this is the best time to accelerate its adoption.
In most developed countries, cash is really not much used now on day to day transactions. It can be done in the Philippines too.
What should Tourism Providers do?
1. Highlighting good things.
The pause we are seeing right now in economic activity is actually allowing the environment to take a breather. This is probably a unique time in our history where we can go to places with zero or little crowd offering a good time to relax and do some reflection (true vacation!)
2. Embrace digital and go all the way.
Every travel provider should digitize their booking and payment systems. In a pandemic situation we are in right now, it’s critical. Cash is dirty and can propagate viruses and bacteria. (You can go ask Howie Mandel on this.)
On a more forward-looking basis, going digital will equip and get you ready when the pandemic is over and international travel is back. Digital payment is the norm now in developed countries. Cashless is now King!
Also, take advantage of social media and other online outlets to promote your business. Most of it is free and you can build global followers at little cost.
3. Focus ads on locals.
We have to face reality. Travel volume will never be the same until a vaccine is available. Until that time comes, we gotta save money and any ad dollars should be focused on local travelers.
4. Increase safety protocols and process.
Gotta be obsessive on cleanliness. As shown in the survey, paramount to people’s mind are their safety and health. You gotta highlight on your marketing or social media channels what you’re doing to ensure the safety and health of your guests.
5. Collaborate with DOT, LGUs and fellow businesses.
It’s a team effort. Everyone needs everyone to get through the pandemic. We’re all in this together. Let the ‘bayanihan’ spirit shine through.
** thanks to Roderick Eime/Creative Commons for featured photo