The Future of Travel podcast series from Bangkok-based hospitality-branding agency, QUO Global is attracting global tourism and hospitality thought leaders as they consider the impact of the Coronavirus pandemic on our industry.
This was the key takeaway from Thomas Willms, CEO of Deutsche Hospitality – Germany’s largest hotel group with brands including Steigenberger Hotels & Resorts and Jaz in the City – in the latest episode of QUO’s new podcast series The Future of Travel.
Willms said that for those nations where outbound travel is a relatively new phenomena, today’s sudden and abrupt restrictions are a painful rewinding of the clocks.
Willms is one of a number of industry leaders who’ve been speaker to QUO CEO David Keen and Chief Branding Officer Catherine Monthienvichienchai.
CitizenM COO Michael Levie agreed: “I predict that there will be a time that everything is close to being back to normal. Because we have an eagerness to travel around the world.. .and conquer, so that will come back, I believe.”
But he said we have to understand that this will take time, because no one has ever experienced or witnessed anything quite like this before.
“It’s going to take a window of a year, 18 months, two years for us to see what normality looks like again. I think that time for recovery is going to be longer because the structural impact economically is so deep… it will cripple many, and unfortunately will force them to close.”
Nicolas Mayer, Managing Partner of PwC’s Global Centre of Excellence for Tourism, argued that we need to use the time we have to plan, undertake scenario analysis, reflect, innovate and convert our service offerings to shape the new normal to our advantage.
“It is not a fatality for which we can wait until the governments tell us you may travel again and then it kicks-off on auto pilot and you go back to travelling again,” said Mayer.
He believes that, for the foreseeable future, those in the mass market segment will struggle the most.
Bill Barnett and Anthony Lark of the Phuket Hotels Association agreed. “No one’s going to want to spend a lot of time in places where there’s thousands of people. The smaller and more intimate the destination, the more attractive it will be,” said Lark.
Whatever the timescale on recovery is, however, it is clear domestic – and then regional – travel will be the first to come back.
“The first test will be Mainland China towards Hong Kong… I think that would be a very good sign…. And then from there, a gradual increase with individual countries and routes opening up,” said Langham Hospitality Group CEO Stefan Leser, who takes great hope from the green shots of recovery taking place in China.
PwC’s Mayer agrees: “Domestic tourism is our lifeline to start ramping up the engine again… or regional proximity tourism. That is going to be what will save us in the short-term and provide us with the cash infusions we need.”
The latest episodes in QUO’s podcast series The Future of Travel can be found at https://www.quo-global.com/