Post-Corona Tourism Planning: Hope is Not a Good Business Strategy

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 April 5, 2020 – In the latest in his series on planning for post-corona tourism, Zoran Pejovic of Paradox Hospitality on the need to think longterm and resist using hope as a strategy. 

It seems that most people are still locked in some sort of disbelief or shock over the ongoing Coronavirus crisis, even though most of the Western world has been in the lockdown for a couple of weeks now. I don’t know how else to explain such a glaring lack of strategic thinking on behalf of some, otherwise very sane and thoughtful people.

Before moving on, I have a question for people not wanting to address the longterm economic aspects of the lockdowns and quarantine. What is the purpose of this? Do you sincerely believe that you are proving your moral superiority by not even wanting to engage in talks about the economic aspects of the crisis? No, that doesn’t make you morally superior, if anything it makes you blind. On top of that, this is a false dichotomy. You can fully support all the aspects of the lock-down and quarantine, and still discuss how many people are going to lose their jobs over it, how many lives will be lost due to the economic downturn, how many businesses will bankrupt and how the way we do things is going to change.

Now, that I have gotten that off my chest, I must start by saying that hope is not a good business strategy. I have already written on the need for scenario planning, which is an amazing tool, especially when it comes to answering the questions on future trends and recognizing changes that come with those trends. In this crisis, scenario planning is a great tool that might be used to answer some of your budgetary questions as well. Recognizing the right scenario might save you some money in your wallet. The biggest question that all the businesses are facing right now is how long will this last, and scenario planning is a perfect tool to use in this case.

Nevertheless, if you have answered some of your more practical questions, on how to keep you and your teams safe and introduced remote work, and signed up for all Zoom and Slack apps, and when you have answered some of the budgetary questions, by planning different cashflows based on different scenarios, the longterm strategic questions still remain to be answered.

If you survive this crisis, do you want your business to grow or to scale? If you don’t know the difference, it is time to read up.

The biggest question you have to ask yourself though, is whether your product will have a demand after the crisis is over, whether the processes you have in place will be affected and whether your business model will still be viable. These are the three key aspects of your business that you need to think about deep and think about hard. These are also the three aspects of your business that require you to put your innovator’s hat on as well. When people usually think about innovation, they usually consider product innovation, but a larger space for improvement lies in the process innovation and the business model itself.

Let’s apply this to the that largely focuses on the conference segment, as an example.

If your hotel is a conference hotel and that is your main product, you might be at a large disadvantage after this crisis is over. Many businesses have already moved to Zoom conferencing and might stay there indefinitely, and even those that will want physical conferences, conventions and seminars will be more cautious for a while due to reputation damage that might follow should something undesirable occur, such as a new outbreak for example. So, you need to be thinking about changing your product. Perhaps moving into a more wellbeing retreat center could work for your hotel. You need to be thinking who is buying your products, businesses or individuals. Individuals might be less risk-averse in the immediate post-crisis times then businesses, which might inform some of your longer-term, strategic decisions.

When it comes to process innovation, there is much to be done here. Processes and process innovations are often not visible to the guests, so it is often disregarded as less important, even though this is where you usually save your money. However, I am thinking that it might be the time to bring some of those invisible processes to the front and show it to the guests. If your hotel has maintained the reputation of having an amazingly silent and invisible housekeeping service, you might need to be thinking about bringing these services forward now, making them visible. People are motivated largely by prevention emotions, so playing to their sense of safety by making the cleaning process more visible and more prominent, might be one of the ways to go.

Finally, the innovation of the business model of the hotel industry has been a long time coming. Currently, hotels operate under one of the four models, under hotel management agreements, branded or unbranded, under franchise agreements, as owner/family operation or as under lease agreements. This is the one where I can’t bring forward many solutions, but you need to be thinking about all your stakeholders, and sharing the of the success when it is all good, but also responsibility for surviving downturns more across the board.

You can read more on this subject of post-coronavirus from Zoran here:

Travel Industry: Keep Communicating and Visibility

Build Scenarios! Be Present! Take Time to Think!

Post-Coronavirus Travel and Tourism: Some Predictions

Croatian Tourism 2020 and Coronavirus: Let’s Postpone the Season

You can connect with Zoran Pejovic via LinkedIn.

After you have looked at all of this, think about your purpose, why do you do what you do, and will that fit into the new, emerging world. Think deep and think hard. You might come out of this crisis stronger than you thought possible.

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