Though the tourism industry has been hit hard by Covid-19, there remain high hopes and big aims for when borders reopen and people can take to the skies again.
Indeed, the crisis has rallied industry leaders to devise innovative ways to adapt – for instance, emphasising the micro over the macro, stepping up digital offerings and prioritising intimate experiences for guests over quick turnovers.
Q: What are some major reforms being considered and implemented?
“We have been looking at ways to bring our destinations to life virtually, while worldwide lockdowns have greatly reduced the capacity for travel. We feel incredibly privileged that through technology, we have been able to inspire, entertain and educate and bring the hope of travel-to-come. – Nicole Robinson, chief marketing officer of experiential luxury travel company andBeyond
“The yearning for real human connection will become even more prevalent”
“The yearning for real human connection will become even more prevalent and consumers will want to go to restaurants that are able to provide them [with unique settings and experiences that are safe]. The concept of the chef’s table might become a norm… and chefs might offer fewer items on the menu, focusing on dishes that are their best.” – Sue-Shan Quek, managing partner of hospitality group The Supermarket Company
“I think [hotels] need to ensure we recapture the confidence of our guests, and that means stepped up hygiene and clear communication about the safety measures being taken. We need to make more investments in contactless check-ins alongside new in-room technology so that we can get rid of things like remote controls.” – Loh Lik Peng, hotelier, restaurateur and founder of the Unlisted Collection
“[The Science Centre Singapore is] currently reviewing our processes to meet our audiences where they are at – this means transporting content into a digital space. The key here is understanding how online platforms can amplify the on-ground experience, to create a new, collaborative space where people can relive their favourite facets of our offerings in a refreshed way.” – Lim Tit Meng, chief executive officer of Science Centre Singapore
Q: Beyond contactless considerations, how will things change for staff?
“One of the most challenging things for [our] team will be welcoming our regular guests back with our signature warmth and hospitality without any human contact! In a climate where customers might end up ordering delivery or takeaway more than dining out, every customer’s visit to a restaurant will be deemed even more valuable than before.” – Olivier Bendel, CEO of restaurant group Déliciae Hospitality Management
“[Underpinning] this shift into the new normal is the need for staff to expand their expertise as the needle moves towards digital. The traditional museum experience has always been rooted within a physical space, but the call to break out of those four walls is at its loudest now.” – Lim Tit Meng
“Cross-departmental support and training will be more common, with new skills to be acquired”
“With Covid-19’s sustained economic impact, hotel companies are looking to streamline operations as much as possible. An outcome of this is that less or no casuals will be hired in functions such as banqueting, guest relations and more. Even when business picks up, cross-departmental support and training will be more common, with new skills to be acquired.” – Joshua Gan, Asia-Pacific regional director of hospitality education group EHL Group
Q: What will be the focus of the industry in a post-Covid-19 future?
“This pandemic has highlighted our trade–off of quality versus quantity – a human connected experience versus absolute certainty that we stay healthy. The tourism industry’s challenge will be to manage that trade–off in such a way that a traveller feels safe enough with the general environment to feel comfortable to then choose their experience within that environment.” – Nicole Robinson
“Perhaps it’s not about pure luxury and indulgence at the top end, but more about respect for the environment and also for the stakeholders in the travel ecosystem.” – Loh Lik Peng
“What’s happening now is a catalyst for us to change our business practices”
“The word sustainable has been bandied about pre-pandemic, and we have been taking baby steps to get there. However what’s happening now is a catalyst for us to change our business practices and we’re doing that by looking at takeaway and packaging materials more closely and sourcing more responsibly by understanding how and where our supplies are coming from.” – Sue-Shan Quek
“Museums and institutions like ours have long been a place of wonder, where people regardless of age and nationality and socio-economic status are free to wander and discover new nuggets of knowledge and a reawakened sense of curiosity about the world. While movement in these spots might not be as bustling as before in the short run, we now have twice the opportunity to share the magic with people across the globe via [digital] platforms that transcend time and space.” – Lim Tit Meng
Q: What are some hopes you personally have for the industry as we move forward together?
“We hope all our food and beverage friends can continue to persevere during these trying times. We will continue to move forward with our battle scars bandaged and look forward to the day when we can give our community a large group hug!” – Olivier Bendel
“To continue supporting one another and be a game–changer for the global HoReCa (hotel, restaurant and café) industry.” – Sue-Shan Quek
“I sincerely hope that the hospitality industry becomes more integrated into the fabrics of local communities.” – Joshua Gan