As uncertainty continues to plague the market, negative talk around the impacts of COVID-19 is rife in the hospitality industry at the moment. So, we teamed up with Steve Lowy, CEO at Anglo Educational Services, Founder of The Residence Apartments, and Founder at Umi Digital, to talk about how we can continue to be positive about the changes that COVID-19 is bringing to our industry.
The webinar opened with a poll of the listeners, asking “Post vaccine announcements and as we progress with mass adoption early in 2021, are you more confident to pre-book travel?” The answer was a very positive yes from 86% of the listeners.
This response sparked lots of conversation around how all hope is not lost for the travel market, and those that can adapt will hopefully be able to survive the changes.
One of the key points discussed was the importance of the experience economy and how many businesses in the hospitality industry have been able to innovate and evolve their offerings to allow for new services with much success.
For example, Hawksmoor, the award-winning British steakhouse and cocktail bar, is offering a service that allows customers to bring ‘Hawksmoor into their home’.
Whether it’s steak or pre-bottled cocktails, you can have the experience delivered to your door complete with video instructions from their Head Chef. This type of innovation is what has been keeping many in the industry alive and will be something that we will certainly see into 2021.
In addition to this, the staycation market is something that has seen a boom in 2020 with travel restrictions to many countries continuing to play havoc with the industry. For many, the desire for a staycation was an absolute lifeline, but for the city center hotels, this has still been a struggle as many were expectedly opting for more rural staycations. This then moved our conversation onto city travel, and how youth travel, in particular, has also had an impact on the industry.
For many young people, particularly students, plans may have been altered, put on hold, or abandoned altogether. And this has more of an impact on the industry than we know, like visits from family, friends, or scoping out trips would have all been canceled.
However, the positive side to this is that when travel opens up again, the youth market is very likely to have a boom as they are often the ones who have the desire to learn, try new things and see new places.
This also plays into the hands of the experience economy yet again, as they will be seeking hotels with a quirky and more experiential vibe to them, of which there are plenty in the UK. However, we did as a pair, acknowledge the need for the government to step in here and put more of a focus around not only travel in general but youth travel in particular.
This area of tourism in particular is a huge market and hasn’t had any budget allocated to it since the London 2012 Olympics, which is shocking. In addition, the need for the Minister of Tourism to be seen as more than a Junior role in parliament is an even bigger conversation and one that needs to be had in light of the pandemic’s impact on our industry.
So, what does the future look like?
The prospect of a vaccine for the travel industry is certainly a lifeline that many will be clinging to and quite rightly. It is absolutely a time to look towards the future, remain positive and champion change for the industry.
Whether that be continuing to support the drive towards the government taking the market more seriously, or innovating your own services to appeal to the new areas of the industry that are emerging, 2021 could be a bounce-back year for segments of the industry if the vaccine comes into play and we can remove the restrictions around hospitality that have been looming over us for the last 8 months.
So let’s keep positive and look ahead to a brighter future for our industry.
>>> If you missed the webinar and you’d like to catch up, you can watch the recording here.