The Road Ahead ...POST COVID19 - Paradigm Shift?
A vibrant sector suddenly becomes silent , which is definitely affecting a large number of stakeholders both external and internal. A hustle and bustle industry environment was never prepared for a gateway to such a structural collapse.
What we started with, where we sulked at conditions of our sector seemed different as interdependence on each other surfaced out and effects of the same on all major industries are being read with quantitative data in most magazines and newspapers each day. Importance of the unorganized sector is understood well during such crises .
Wishing for a magic ball, where one could foresee the right date and time to recover from this is the ultimate goal , the experts are churning figues and perspectives of the outcome which this pandemic will bring , But we are still looking at a future which is unpredictable. One thing is sure , things will be normal in the near future, but WHEN ! Wait and Watch .
Over the years working with corporate and associations , aligned with skilled and unskilled workers , cross functional areas and multi nationalities at various levels,I feel a tectonic shift towards the new operational outlook in the meetings and events industry . What these changes look like or should look like , will be again over a time which will be under trials and errors in many ways. Couple of the changes on conducting events are imminent .
Getting organised and recognised first is an important step initially . Many may come under Micro segments in MSME and some may not be even visible. Unskilled workers or technicians in MICE may be temp staff for many and may not be even registered. How do we channelise this and get more organized till we are classified as an industry ? Duplicity of laws and making way around them tempt business owners to save on cost hence keeping at bay from getting them self disciplined in business functions . This functionality needs to be broken . Task force should be constituted to focus primarily on business ethics and operations .
National bodies like Convention Bureaus, Promotion Bureaus are advised to be kept independent with well equipped stalwarts from the industry to be empowered to take decisions for the good of trade and sector. These convention and promotion bureaus are to be suggested state wise under the mother body for upliftment of state tourism and marketing its destinations with offering subventions to attract global association businesses . Lists of all state stakeholders actively enrolled with the chapter to form up an ecosystem within to grow together and have SOPs delivery and profitability attaining triple bottom lines (people, planet and profit)
Travel Agencies PCO PEOs, hotels and venues and players in the market have to define a fine line between competition and bloodbath. The pie available as business is as important for all and as players are we ready to pick up business ? and At what cost? . High time we start certification of players and diligently approved by the government to operate within a scope of business. Our teams are well skilled and educated in the same fields and certified , trained to do jobs meant for trade. Standardization and parity in terms of minimum pricing to sustain have to be maintained to keep it simple and to avoid undercutting bloodbaths .
Ease of doing business literally has to be with ease. Taxations, or tax payment mechanisms , permissions , approvals , refunds and red tapism takes a toll and gives birth to arm twisting and corruption . In a cascading effect where margins are lesser forcing businesses to look for other ways to earn and thus engaging in unethical ways and being incompetent . Keep it simple with taxes , straight forward invoicing and payments cycle to keep engines running with happy law abiding business owners.
Safety and hygiene standards are to be revisited and remade. Indian hotels are better off to at least scan luggages at entry where the rest of the world still doesn't have the same practice. Smaller to bigger hotels, all classifications are to be mandatory by independent bodies , with 3 step approval mechanism and timelines to improve for checks . Since They make the venue safe , and boosts confidence in participants to attend the same, post pandemic mass gathering should be termed and stated as ORGANISED gatherings by the MICE and hotel or venues .Strict measures on hygiene are to be implemented too, in terms of room sanitization and housekeeping . Minimisation and less wastages leads to sustainable measures getting implemented and thus a win win for the community.
As newer processes and standards are made to redevelop the MICE and Tourism we should not forget to keep it simple and easy. Procedures look fantastic on paper but most of the time are so tough to implement as many do not want to adapt to these changes and discourage the teams to be a part of the same.. Changes are to be repeatedly tried and experimented , test flexible methods to cause no harm and unease to the most important customer -that is the guest.
A robust marketing and sentiment building plan among the population has to be developed that promotes India and travel safe . It is indeed interlinked to overall consumption and disposable income but at no point should we give up marketing the safest destination and advantages to travel with government support on upliftment and marketing drive for the population to get moving .
New Behaviour may be seen, less group travel and more individual travel or FIT, late booking trends call it last minute bookings, assurance of health and hygiene of the traveller and destination with agility and ability to deliver!
More and more people are looking online or searching for next holiday or travel , longing for TRAVEL. We are in Phase 01 of the post covid era.
Phase 1: PAUSE (right now)
Phase 2: STAGGERED/ SENSITIVE
Phase 3: FULL REOPENING
Trade cannot work in isolation and sooner we join hands it will be better to rise together to regain confidence in the market and tourism sector.