The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted nearly every industry in unprecedented ways, including tourism and hospitality. Major events have been cancelled. Hotels temporarily closed their doors. Cities have been forced to deal with lost revenue during some of the busiest times of the year. The economic impact on the industry has been dramatic and highly noticeable because so many things shut down fast, and people stopped traveling. Since hotels stopped receiving tourists, they lost a huge chunk of tourism income, and that resulted in a large multiplier effect because it contributes to the local economy in a lot of ways.
For small events that are completely based on the community, it has been really hard for them, and it has been nearly impossible to switch to a virtual event because their major components usually consist of things like performances and booths with vendors. For many of these smaller events, they just had to return money and take a huge financial loss. For larger events, adapting to the pandemic has often meant switching to a virtual format. Although these larger festivals usually have the resources and flexibility to do so, which is not something smaller, community-based events have typically been able to do.
Even though tourists’ attitudes have a less direct impact than the economic disruption, it’s so important for events and destinations to think about these perceptions when looking at bouncing back from the pandemic. We need to be thinking about whether people are going to be willing to travel again and whether it will be the same as before, or if there is a ‘new normal’ where tourists now expect preventative measures to be in place.The ability for events and destinations to bounce back from the major pandemic disruption is all about resilience – a theme we have heard a lot in recent months in terms of community resilience, destination resilience and individual resilience.
Larger organizers often have the resources, history and fan base, as well as the support of health departments and governments, to shift their events and recover more quickly. Smaller festivals, though, do not often have the same level of support. Even with risk management strategies in place, they have found themselves wishing they had a better financial reserve prior to the pandemic. The size of the financial reserve, including emergency funds and government support, affects how quickly the organization will bounce back. The organizations may have been overlooked in the past, but that can be utilized moving forward regardless of size.
Although the industry is beginning to accept the situation, so much so that there are already many actions that we can see being implemented in advance of this new normal. The speed with which everything has happened during the Covid-19 pandemic is contrasted by the severe measures that have paralyzed travel. This has given rise to an increase in the number of hotels that have decided to close their doors. In the new normal, travelers and guests will make safety and hygiene measures a priority when choosing their accommodation and they will demand that our client-hotels implement strict cleaning protocols to deal with the coronavirus.
Flexibility is one of the most important aspects when booking hotels. New policies that adapt to unforeseen changes, like business meetings that may unexpectedly change or vacations that will need to be delayed due to sudden travel restrictions being imposed, will need to be developed. By offering flexibility to the customer, hotels can give a degree of confidence to their customers who are undoubtedly worried when booking accommodations due to the inherent insecurity of possible isolation situations, closing of borders, and flight cancellations.
It is not a coincidence that the online travel agencies(OTA’s) display crucial information on the listings of hotels. The hotels must ensure that detailed information is provided, like the time it takes the hotel to answer inquiries, details of what is included in the stay, the hotel’s current situation, and expanded information on security measures, transfers to and from the airport, babysitters for children etc. Furthermore, they must offer explanations and advice on local measures pertaining to Coronavirus social distancing and restrictions.