POSSIBLE FUTURES FOR POST PANDEMIC TRAVEL INDUSTRY, PART 1 BY MARIO GAVIRA 0 167

Travel companies are fighting for their lives. Being at the bleeding edge of the storm has violently thrown us from a predictable risk environment into the deep uncertainty of uncharted waters.

Nobody has a playbook, and only with a clean-sheet mindset and the proverbial “out-of-box” thinking will we manage to find our path out of this mess. We might not come out stronger from it, but hopefully faster, leaner and a little wiser.

This piece aims to forward-engineer four possible scenarios for how the travel industry will emerge once this pivotal crisis is over.

A peek into the future

The potential scenarios that unfold are narratives of four plausible outcomes in travel of the current COVID-19 catastrophe. Each future substantially differs from one another, highlighting profound trends this crisis has unleashed and that might play out in very different ways.   

To bring the scenarios to life, I created a matrix that addresses the uncertainties around traveler behavior and economic recovery.

  • Y axis: “to which degree will travel behavior change after the pandemic?” This axis reflects a wide range of collective shifts in societal attitudes about the why and how we travel.
  • X axis: “how long will the economic crisis last and how fast will the world recover?” This axis illustrates the depth and length of the economic downturn and the degree that it will impact companies across the entire travel industry.

Depending on how the economic recovery and the changes in travel behavior play out, a very different travel industry landscape will emerge out of this crisis. The different outcomes can be distilled in four distinctive scenarios:

Game-changing trends that will dictate the outcome

Among all the moving pieces unfolding in the current seismic shock, a number of consumers, health protection, regulatory and macroeconomic trends stand out.

They will all shape either the economic recovery on the X-axis or the travel behavior on the Y-axis.

Let us look at these potential game-changers:

  • Consumer shifting towards online shopping and experiences
  • Virtual becomes business as usual
  • Health and hygiene standards go mainstream
  • Social distancing while traveling

Health and economic drivers impacting travel

With the entire world was brought to a crashing halt to help control the spread of the virus, there was simply no historical precedent on when and in which shape the economy will rebound. 

Economists traditionally sketch three broad possible recovery scenarios, which are described as V-U-L:

  • V-shaped
  • U-shaped 
  • L-shaped

How long it takes the world economy to get back on its feet will profoundly shape the future of our travel industry.

  • Virus severity and spread
  • Government economic policies
  • Border barriers and travel restrictions

The scenarios, beginning with the first below and in further articles, outline four ways the interplay between the economic crisis and travel behavior shifts might unfold and its ripple effects on the transport, accommodation and travel distribution sector.

Scenario 1:  Travel swings back to normal in 2021

If history is any lesson, recent epidemic outbreaks have enjoyed a classic V-shape GDP recovery, as these charts from a Harvard Business Review paper clearly illustrate:

Containment efforts in all countries made the outbreak peak in April 2020. The rapid drop in new cases and mortality from May onwards is allowing governments to gradually start relaxing social distance measures following the successful playbook of Asian nations. And now, it appears public sentiment and business confidence starts moving up again.

On the economic front, governments and central banks across the world opened up the financial floodgates, pumping a jaw-dropping $8 trillion of fiscal stimulus into the global economy.

This unprecedented effort in postwar history allows industries to absorb most the shock of the economical shutdown for both businesses and workers hit by the COVID-19 sledgehammer, preventing larger structural damages to the economy.

Looking forward, the fear of a second wave in the fall of 2021 does not materialize, thanks to a world much better prepared to selectively contain the virus.

In Q4, most of the world enjoys a strong economic rebound reaching pre-crisis metrics in early 2021 and triggering a new growth cycle for years to come. 

The miracle of traveling

Recent crises have shown us that travel is one of the world’s most resilient of sectors – and this time will be no different. The industry’s underlying demand economics of a growing global middle class, with the financial means and the desire to discover the world, remains untouched.

Glimmers of hope can already be spotted in China, where four months after the initial outbreak, with the easing of movement restrictions, traveler confidence bounced back.

In April 2020, Chinese airlines added approximately 600,000 seats back each week into scheduled services, mainly on domestic routes.

Even if the shock-recovery time takes longer in the Western world, travel bans are gradually being lifted from May onwards and consumer travel sentiment is starting to rise again.

The pent-up demand during the lockdown period, the eagerness to visit friends and family and millions of credit vouchers issued by airlines in exchange for cancelled bookings are strong drivers to bring travelers back to road. 

Most nations focus on bringing domestic travel back to life for the summer season to protect themselves from potential second-wave outbreaks from overseas and to support their local tourism infrastructure. 

Tourism levels during the summer peak season are still a long way from pre-crisis levels, but it sows the seeds for a progressive ramp-up of most of the worldwide transport and accommodation industry.

During fall and winter, with seasonal outbreaks under control thanks to laser-focused social distancing measures, travelers’ confidence keeps growing and business travel swings back to pre-crisis levels.

What back in the darkest moment of the global lockdown looked more like a miracle than a credible reality, has happened: travel is back, and the scars left by the downturn have healed in record time.  

Some coronavirus side effects will certainly stick around for some time, mostly around hygiene and safety concerns. Health screening and stricter vaccination controls translate into longer queues in airports and at border checks. 

Green shoots everywhere

Across the travel landscape, all sectors see green shoots emerge between Q3 and Q4. Players with a weak balance sheet before the virus outbreak stumble and fall, but most transport, accommodation and distribution players, heavily backed by financial aid during the crisis, manage to get out of the dark tunnel in reasonably good shape.

Ground transportation, notably high-speed trains, enjoy a strong boost from early Q3 thanks to the rapid increase in domestic travel. 

Similar to previous crises, online travel agencies take the lead on the recovery front by capturing the rising online demand thanks to their edge on search engine marketing and metasearch traffic. 

But airlines and hotel chains are not willing to repeat the 9/11 errors, where a new breed of tech travel distributors, such as Expedia and Booking.com, capitalized on the huge distressed inventory from suppliers and the online shift of consumers to become the new travel giants in today’s world. 

They are now stronger, faster and smarter on the digital front and will fight for their share of the direct business. As a result, 2021’s growth momentum in travel will be evenly shared between suppliers and OTAs.

Google Travel, which in the pre-coronavirus world already dominated the travel sector like no other thanks to its market-crushing search engine and neatly integrated travel ecosystem, sits in the front row of the recovery phase, harnessing the ever-increasing shift towards hyper-connected consumer behavior.

* Check scenarios 2, 3 and 4 when they are published in the coming days and next week.About the author…

Mario Gavira is a tech executive, angel investor and board adviser

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SUN RESORTS’​ COVID-19 UPDATE – FRANCOIS EYNAUD GROUP CEO 0 254

We are facing an unprecedented situation since COVID-19 has been declared a worldwide pandemic. Most of the countries around the world have opted for a lockdown to stop the virus.

In Mauritius, confinement measures have been extended to the 4th of May 2020.

As a consequence, we at Sun Limited have temporarily suspended all our operations in our 7 properties, namely Long Beach, Sugar Beach, La Pirogue, Ambre and Ile aux Cerfs in Mauritius and Kanuhura in the Maldives, as well as our branded hotels Four Seasons Resorts Mauritius at Anahita and Shangri- La’s Le Touessrok Resort and Spa.

We have taken all precautions to make sure that our associates are staying safely at home. As a family, we contact them regularly to ensure that they lack nothing.

We ensured that every single guest from our resorts reached home safely.

We are already missing them all!

As per our plan, we have decided to maintain the last phase of renovation for Sugar Beach as soon as the lockdown will be ended. Our guests will enjoy a great new experience as from October with a fully renovated hotel.

For Long Beach, La Pirogue, Ambre, and Kanuhura, bookings are open and we hope to welcome back our guests as soon as the borders reopen.

 Our reservation teams are working from home and are available for any help in planning your next holidays.

To facilitate any decision, we have decided to set up flexible policies. Until further notice, for all new bookings done through our website or reservation centre, modification, change or even cancellation up to the day prior to arrival without any cancellation fees will be possible.

If bookings are done via online travel agencies, tour operators, travel agents or any third parties, their respective cancellation/refund policies will be applicable.

Stay safe! We are looking forward to welcoming you back soon.

François Eynaud

CEO of Sun Ltd

SYLVAIN DESLANDES – CEO AGILEUM HOSPITALITY 0 299

The hospitality industry is one of the key players of global economy today and represents a fair share of the economic activity of our country. Its complexity lies in that it revolves around ‘service’ which is intangible, perishable and cannot be inventoried. Technically it is cyclical and needs to be personalized according to each single customer’s demands. A thorough understanding of a customer’s perception of high quality service is hence what can drive any business in the hospitality industry. It might sound like a herculean task but yet by adopting the right hospitality solutions supporting customer service, the adequate service culture can be integrated in any enterprise. With more than 25 years of experience, AGILEUM Hospitality has through its IT solutions reshaped the dynamics of service. Its team of experts provide tailor-made, ingenious and affordable IT solutions to drive any businesses in the hospitality industry by enhancing service, reducing costs and promoting revenue growth. 

Why choose AGILEUM Hospitality as partner?

AGILEUM Hospitality delivers Oracle Hospitality on premise and cloud solutions to hotels and F&B businesses. The company has positioned itself as the market leader for Hospitality IT in the Indian Ocean. As the sole distributor of Oracle Hospitality solutions in the Indian Ocean, the company through its tailor made solutions supports its customers in the hospitality industry to provide preeminent service and experience to its guests anywhere. The acquisition of Micros Fidelios by AGILEUM in 2016 has provided yet another competitive edge to the company in line with its vision of being a partner of choice for business organizations through every stage of their digital transformation process and positively impact people’s lives.

The Solutions

F&B solutions

POS systems can transform the F&B business by providing accurate information and integrated analytics on sales trends and inventories which can in turn drive any business to deliver fantastic guest experience, smartly manage costs and drive repeat business hence increasing revenue. The company provides 24/7 support to all its clients to ensure that at no point there is any disruption in service. With 500 + POS installed, 95+ PMS installations and + 135 clients across the Indian Ocean, AGILEUM Hospitality is undoubtedly the market leader in IT solutions for the hospitality industry. Having offices across 7 countries in the Indian Ocean its objective is to be at the service of each and every client providing full support at all times. 

Hotel Solutions 

To promote operational efficiency, an adequate understanding of the customer’s requirements is needed. AGILEUM Hospitality delivers Oracle Hospitality on premise and cloud comprehensive hotel Performance Management System (PMS) capabilities to promote better guest experience and engagement through a personalized service. Through the channel manager interface, OTA reservations and profiles are seamlessly created and updated thus enabling the front office to manage customer profiling optimally. 

About the CEO 

Mr Sylvain Deslandes has been the managing partner of the company since 1999. A French native, Mr Deslandes holds a Bachelor of Science in Computer Science from Insa de Lyon. Having led complex projects and implemented programs in various industries, he has the extensive experience required to be the driving force at AGILEUM Hospitality to stimulate further growth. 

“With AGILEUM Hospitality, we are developing a support model of international standard for companies. Our aim is to create a hub that will bring added value to our existing and future clients. Our strong expertise and knowledge in varied disciplines help clients achieve optimal level of performance through a centralised and agile information system.’’

Sylvain Deslandes, CEO of AGILEUM

Having a sustained growth rate with 20 innovative solutions based on the best business practices, the company is now headed towards new challenges. According to Mr Deslandes customer satisfaction in both hotel and F&B industry is key to success. In his view, the in-house solutions coupled with solutions from 4 global partners are consistently efficient in providing a support model to all existing partners. 

As much as high quality service is important to drive any business, efficient operations can be carried only by adequately trained personnel. Mr Deslandes believes that the solution they are currently devising at AGILEUM Hospitality can tap in the potential of each team member for the perfect synchronicity within the enterprise. Besides identifying the key capabilities of each member, bespoke solutions will be provided to encourage career growth and enhance performances.

AGILEUM Hospitality is set to revolutionize digital transformation in the hospitality industry with its 360 services, its reliability and its bespoke solutions to support its customers to improve their operational performance. Organizations are today faced with intense challenges in an ever conscious and sensitive market where the customer is king. Service orientation and the ability to meet customers’ needs is what makes the difference. With the solutions provided at AGILEUM Hospitality, all partners are given a platform where they can optimize on their service while securing a growth of performance, revenue and interpersonal skills of their employees.