As part of our new series, ‘Marketers Playbook for 2020 Post Covid-19′, Ruchika Mehta, Corporate Director – Communications and PR, Apeejay Surrendra Park Hotels Limited highlights the foreseeable changes that will impact the travel and hospitality industries
Suddenly on a Sunday night you realise, that you have got to be more innovative to exist.
What we are seeing and going through is possibly a first in our lifetime crisis and will remain one, which this generation would ever see. As I spearhead corporate communications, marketing, branding and public relations at Apeejay Surrendra Park Hotels Limited, I have taken this time to step back and understand the mood of the consumers. We need to ‘relook’ and ‘reinvent’ ourselves based on the current situation.
What for sure is going to happen is the way the consumer is going to look at brands. At a time when attitudes are evolving daily and behaviours are being strongly shaped – for marketers, it becomes important to tap onto these fringes of change which have the capacity to become mainstream. As the current situation is also creating scenarios of salary cuts, jobs scare, companies shutting, consumers are definitely going to be smart with their money. They will focus more on what they need than what they want.
Though these are small dots, the bigger plans need to be chalked out of it. We as marketers need to understand that there are stories and experiences that need to be shared, to organically and authentically engage with our audiences and understand where they are shifting towards.
Some of the foreseeable changes that I personally feel are going to impact the travel and hospitality industries are:
- Change In Food Habits: The world was already moving towards a vegetarian, vegan diet. This pandemic has brought back the focus on food and its sources. The organic movement, farm-to-fork and vegan, and conscious dining are going to be a big focus and this time. This change won’t come from the companies selling it first but directly from the consumers who are going to demand it. Buffet may well be forgotten for some time. Fresh produce, freshly cooked food will be in high demand.
- Wellness Will Be Big: One thing this pandemic has definitely brought to focus is our immunity system. The importance of health and immunity will be very high on the agenda. Anyone that you see now is into exercising. Even if one didn’t do it earlier, this lockdown has ensured that you pick up an exercise and build on yourself. Focus on mental health will be primary. Now with lots of time at hand, consumers have come to this greater realisation of the importance of mindfulness and positive mental health. With this, the power of quietness has re-surfaced and is here to stay for some time. Consumers will look forward to travelling light, with closed ones, at quite places.
- Safety And Hygiene: The next big thing. Hotels have generally focussed on hygiene and safety but now the focus is going to be even stronger. There will be a paradigm shift in the way how the hotels look at guests and how the guests look at hotels. Now regular check-in may even require one to show a medical certificate and undergo body temperature check. The guest will judge a hotel and brand on its hygienic parameters very strictly. The expectations will totally shift from pre-existing notions to hygiene – back to basics.
- Technology: The world was already progressing towards adapting to technological changes, but now we will be looking at technology that aids in contactless or touch-free interaction from people, products and/ or services. Most likely scenarios of virtual check-in at hotels, using an app to go to one’s room floor and then open the room, without having to touch it – can be the key components of how the industry will function. This may sound very futuristic, but the social distancing will have a strong foothold and will urge people to look at how to feel confident about the brand.
- Sustainable Tourism: By all means, a global health crisis is not a solution for how the earth is recovering, but the fact that it is giving room to reflect and make us more aware of how we can travel. People are going to be attracted to sustainable tourism and will consider a slower and more thoughtful approach to travel. Instead of ticking off five to seven places in one’s itinerary at a time, travelling in a way that builds an authentic connection with a place’s culture, community and environment should be considered. Countries and cities that can show how sustainable and environment-friendly they are will definitely be able to attract more visitors than others. The extent of travel will also be determined by ‘safe destinations’ and will impact our choices as well.
With Covid-19 fundamentally changing the way we function at our homes, workplaces and industries, so to say the least, marketers are liable to acknowledge the trends and changes, infer a pattern and strategize accordingly.