I know stock markets are falling like nine pins and there is feeling of déjà vu as the lockdown blues and horrific recent memories of Covid are still fresh in our mind. But we knew it was coming again since we had become quite complacent in taking preventive measures and largely because scientifically any pandemic has a long-life cycle. It was too soon for Covid to go…. Omicron is nothing but a reformed Covid.
Its survival of the fittest and surely, we are in a fight for survival against certain forces of nature. We could meekly blame bad karma for our circumstances and yes, humanity could be less ambitious but is it true that there were no natural calamities or pandemics when humans were in the caves or preindustrial revolution? I am not sure. Viruses have been around much before humans -- and they are actually part of our DNA. Around half of the human genome is made up of millions of DNA sequences
Regardless a lot has been said about natures’ angry retaliation against human intervention, how deforestation and industrial pollution have brought the climate change upon the world and the need for humans to live in harmony with nature. It may well be true but in my view, there is another perspective about evolution of humankind from caves to penthouses. Now we cannot go back into our prehistoric ancestral caves because that would involve a hell of a lot of uninventing and downright impractical to say the least, so the best bet is balance and... Speaking about “balance” we hear that word a lot these days however in my opinion “Adapt” is a more balanced word to use (no pun intended)
Look at the Covid virus…when it stagnates, it mutates to regain its strength, it changes its form to add more life to itself. Viruses must mutate to survive and therein lies a lesson for all of us, after all we learn more from our enemies than our friends.
Speaking of the Travel Related industry where I belong, I see no option but to accept the reality and strongly unite in these unusual times. I want to see big hearts now and cannot wait for true leadership to emerge.
- A phenomenal amount of consumer demand has shifted online so tour operators and travel agents need to adopt technology and move with the times because the change in passenger buying behavior appears to be permanent. Considering the prohibitive costs involved, large Online Travel Agencies (OTAs) with aggregated content must be magnanimous and offer their technology platform to the not so fortunate traditional travel agencies as part of their corporate social responsibility. Co-existence & Collaboration is the need of the hour, and a new business order must emerge. It will be tragic if the OTAs let this opportunity pass.
- Corporations need to respect the Travel Management Companies (TMCs) and respectfully pay a sustainable service fee instead of encouraging hyper competition and driving the TMCs towards extinction.
- Airlines must rationalize capacity & offer sustainable fare structures, allow unlimited date changes in any fare type for the near future and offer instant refunds for cancellations including no shows. Airlines must have no right to hoard public money and must not discriminate against Online Travel Agencies. This will lift the morale of all service providers, boost passenger confidence and build trust in air travel. A clear win-win.
- Passenger experience at airports and in flight has dramatically changed due to travel restrictions, mandatory health screenings, quarantine requirements etc. Certainly not a pleasant change but it is a reality passengers will have to endure for a considerable time to come. The airport operators and the airlines need to recognize the effort passengers are making to show up for flights for whatsoever reason and try to give them a reason to smile & feel good. Since the destinies of airlines and hotels are intricately connected, how about an inconvenience discount in some form instead of a service fee?
There is no doubt that if we can get past petty cutthroat competition and look at the bigger picture, we will mutate & reform to pull through these challenging times with excellence.
Aspiring for the Travel Industry
Seema Luthra (www.travelmetrics.in)