The diversity embedded in the tourism and hospitality sector drives its extremely dynamic behavior. The prolific evolution witnessed from simple local taverns, traveler’s lodges, animal driven carts to dawn of luxury hotels, heritage palace hotels, private charter flights to exotic places for experiential tourism etc. speak their own story. The entrepreneurial opportunities envisioned by the young and talented entrepreneurial minds coupled with the passion to provide once in a lifetime experience to today’s tourism enthusiasts have made this happen.
This fast-paced sector witnessed an unimagined impact when the Covid19 pandemic struck the world. The travel itself got banned and the corresponding exogenous and endogenous factors impacting the industry have been far more disastrous than could have been thought of. The article does not intend to reiterate and discuss this. But what is compelling is to dissect the learnings from a tactical and strategic point of view through framing of questions anchored on foresight, its impending requirements to be followed by the incumbent CEOs and start-up founders.
Hence, the following statements were posited and discussed with the interviewees.
- The current pandemic situation and beyond.
- The current and emerging destinations and beyond.
- The need to explore innovations available in products and services in the sector.
- Unlimited opportunities available for first time and serial entrepreneurs.
- Scale of local, regional and global competitiveness.
While most of them (believed) to have understood the situation, widely witnessed and browsed over media and market interfaces, yet (in actuality) most lacked a clear and extended understanding of the sector.
So, do we term this as fabled vision or lack of foresight?
The sector of tourism and hospitality took the most severe hit and was directly impacted owing to the travel restrictions and bans in place. This setback may have planted the thought in these incumbents to give up but do you think so too? The humans have always been travelers, all through the annals of history, tourism and hospitality has existed through times of travails as well. Only change is in its form, process and deliverables. This one time, due to the fast-paced multiverse world, perhaps the planners failed to translate deployment of foresight into action. They were probably gripped with paralysis for critical thinking and decision making. The challenge was to address the following questions.
Interestingly, these questions remain valid across segments with minor tweaks in the vectors therein.
- What kind of innovative products can be launched in this pandemic scenario for domestic tourism?
- How can one continue to create employment opportunities in 2022 and beyond?
- How about nuclear travels and proximity tourism considering enforcements?
- Can one think of satellite destinations, still unexplored through engagement of local youths and their capabilities?
- Have you thought about new forms of hotels like capsule, igloo and nuclear hotels that will allow to create newer cost optimized segment for capturing the market?
- How about a shift and divert the traditional European tourists towards Asian destinations with effective showcasing and package deals?
- Creating space to accommodate smaller groups for small-time durations for unexplored destinations.
Do you know that foresight engages an orientation towards future-oriented awareness and planning? This enables any business, specifically a start-up in a volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous (VUCA) age, to steer through turbulent waters. The response has to be rapid and effectual for the current and future market conditions. The outcomes may result in the form of organisational changes, new products with dynamic acquisitions for leveraging the new form of an organisation.
We have witnessed that in most business verticals, a highly accurate and long-range forecasting is now history. The patterns have started changing. The existing VUCA business environment is highly turbulent, challenging all forms of managerial decisions, forcing the leaders to be in a dilemma. The response to this rapid change of technologies and competitive fixations is to be agile, adaptable and resilient. This is the only mantra to grow.
Earlier, in static conditions most changes were possible by being incremental and adopting at time. But the accelerated changes in the business environment as a result of pandemic is a wakeup call for all, be it any business but specifically for the service industry, where human interface is the centre of business. Topping to it, the hypercompetitive and interconnected global economies do not allow a lackadaisical approach. A strong and vehement quick response is expected in the form of a scenario analysis. For this, most will have to transit from their bounded rationalities if they intend to survive. Darwin’s survival of the fittest was always there but reborn in this world of never-ending chaos.
What is your opinion?
Do you wish to follow entrapment in the vortex of chaos and get obscured or hone yourself and generate the escape velocity towards new pathways for survival and growth? The choice rests with the individual to stay in the fabled vision or heed the wake-up call to deploy foresight.
Written by Dr. Manoj Joshi.
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