2020-03-27 09:37

COVID-19 demands global change in the tourism industry

The tourism industry, and in particular the business tourism industry, has long been on the verge of global change and the situation caused by COVID-19 has shown that many market players are not aware of the need to do business under new rules. According to experts, in the current situation it is worth to look at the problem more widely and find new ways to meet the needs of the target audience to overcome the crisis with dignity.

Thus, Alexander Chulok, Candidate of Science, Director of the Center for Scientific and Technological Forecasting of the Institute of Statistical Research and Knowledge Economy of the National Research University Higher School of Economics, urged to pay attention to the fact that the tourism industry was on the verge of global changes even before this year's events.

"Now everyone is talking about the fact that the borders have been closed, the flows have risen, everyone is afraid to travel. Who would argue. But this is a kind of discussion of what to do with the sails and mast of the ship that sails on the iceberg, and no one sees the iceberg itself. Because even before the current events (someone calls them "jokers", events with low probability, but large-scale effects), the tourism industry was under the influence of very strong global trends, which should and still will lead to its large-scale transformation and which were underestimated by many Russian players," - said Alexander.

Among such trends, he called technology virtual and augmented reality, which had previously been considered "tangential, but now everyone has seen their large-scale effect", as well as the economy of impressions, shering economy, mobility and openness to new sensations of the younger generation of consumers. According to Alexander, in the current situation, it is important for travel industry players to understand what the needs of their target audience are, why they are competitive in the market, how their knowledge and communication channels will help create a new product.

"For many, windows of opportunity have opened, but neither the tourism industry companies themselves, nor the organizations that provide relevant services are yet aware of this. Yes, the tools for meeting needs have changed, but the needs of people are the needs for communication, movement, new knowledge, vibrant emotions, etc. Who but the travel companies that know the personal preferences of their clients can offer a new product here and now? Therefore, it is important for business to understand how to meet these needs by combining knowledge and data - big data (accumulated or newly acquired) - and modern technologies of the digital age," concluded Alexander.

In turn, the chairman of the Russian Association of Business Tourism and CEO of Zelenski Group of Company Vadim Zelensky believes that the business tourism industry will return to its previous volumes not before the beginning of 2021. In his opinion, this is due, in particular, to the fact that "the virus phobia that we are now seeing, will long rob people of their habit and willingness to travel, because on a subconscious level it will be associated with risk".

"It is all similar to the conditions of a world war, but only when everyone is 'at war' against everyone. And it is clear that the entire economy of the world is now in a very hard stop, which will affect the business travel industry. Yes, the need to travel to work will not go anywhere, but it is quite possible that the first three or four months after the removal of restrictions on movement of the company will correlate needs with opportunities and risks," said Vadim.

However, the expert believes that the quarantine conditions, the need to work remotely and hold meetings over digital channels will give impetus to the development of online technology. "Online communication methods will undoubtedly change our approach to work and to life in general and in the near future will become a habit," he explained.

For his part, Roman Blinov, the development director of the Corteos developer company, believes that the future of business tourism is not only about digital technologies, but also about the concept of cost sharing. In his opinion, it is the shering economy, among other things, that will allow for a decent recovery from the crisis.

"Shared ownership of a business travel management system is the shortest route to a truly sustainable and workable ecosystem, where each participant has access to all values and artifacts, but at the same time incommensurably lower costs to maintain such a solution. This is not only a lower cost of ownership, but also reliability and resilience to global threats, as a system with an entire market interest in continuity is more likely to resist external threats," Roman explained.

He called on all business owners and top management to re-evaluate their approach to strategy and tactics for doing business and, by joining forces, to create joint effective methods to counter global threats that the tourism industry may face again and again in the future.