Travel
Corona-influenced opportunities for travel and tourism companies

Hashtags #DreamNowVisitLater by many destination marketing agencies keep the dream of travel alive in the minds of potential tourists.

Published : 02.06.2020

Creative companies are vamping up their business models and marketing campaigns for the corona era. Hashtags #DreamNowVisitLater by many destination marketing agencies keep the dream of travel alive in the minds of potential tourists.

There are concrete corona-influenced business ideas out there as well. We would like to present some interesting developments for all our readers and partners of the TOURIST* project.

Physical distancing but social connecting

Safety is the name of the game and it can be achieved by physical distancing.  It means that innovative thinking is required. The audience is sensitive and companies have to react quickly to the constant changes in corona restrictions. Transparency and honest communication help to create a bond between businesses and their customers.

For example, Finnair has been active in reconnecting with their customers through social media with its @feelfinnair Instagram account and having their employees perform songs and display signs with the words “Let’s all stay at home” and the hashtag #InThisTogether.

Perhaps we can fly soon again, too.

Now most airlines require that their passengers wear masks onboard. The passenger experience will be a different one during (and after) the pandemic, just like it was after 9/11.

Redesigning the traditional

It is all about social distancing. Restaurants are changing the customer experience so that as much as possible of the elements requiring physical touch are done prior to coming to the restaurant, e.g. choosing the meal and paying for it.

The chef and owner of Finnjävel, Henri Alen, has been a pioneer of this in Finland. During the crisis, he has been coming up with new ideas constantly.

A Dutch restaurant made the news when showing its ingenious social distancing cubicles where customers can dine in separate greenhouses without outside physical contact.

Dishes are served from a safe distance and the dining experience certainly offers intimacy. Other restaurants around the world have built temporary dividers between diners.

Theme parks are important attractions for family travel. They were among the first casualties of the virus and now they may be setting the model for other industries to follow.

Shanghai Disneyland opened in May with new precautions.

The post-pandemic theme park visit is definitely a different experience: All visitors will be required to cover their face with a protective face mask, wash hands, their temperatures will be measured at the gates and there will be quotas and assigned entrance times.

Visitors are also required to have their IDs with them as well as carry a virus tracking app in their smartphone. There will be strenuous cleaning and disinfecting of the facilities as safety and hygiene standards are a top priority now. 

A summer day in Linnanmäki amusement park, the one and only in Helsinki, will be a very different experience this year, too. However, families along with all the other fun-loving people will be anyway very pleased to see it reopen in June.

Time slotting the experience

There are suggestions to create time slots for visitors. The method has already been in use in the most popular attractions such as in Alhambra, a must-see attraction in Spain, to safeguard the unique monument from too many visitors.

Being able to enjoy an attraction smoothly also creates a better customer experience.

Selling time slots would flatten the peak hours and also bring a more constant cash flow. Business operations planning would be easier as well. For example, the need for staff would be more predictable.

Even revenue management can be included in the system: To sell the not-so-popular hours for a cheaper price – and the most popular times would be more expensive, of course.

The system has already been tested in a restaurant in Helsinki, but at that time it was not a success. Maybe it is time to try it again. All you need is a digital booking platform to start time slotting!

Going all digital

Remote experience is the corona era buzzword. Museums offer video exhibition tours and world-famous concerts are now free for everyone to watch. But how to change remoteness into euros? 

Doerz is among the pioneers in Finland to sell online experiences.

For example, you can learn writing songs or even heat a Finnish sauna online! Feedback for these online experiences has been encouraging – perhaps remote will be a new all-time-favourite experience?

For companies, corona may act as a catalyst for online booking developments. Combined with self-service, online bookings work rather perfectly for corona related safety requirements. 

Natura Viva, a nature activity provider in the Helsinki region, is active in making their outdoors equipment self-service rental go online. At the moment, local residents and staycation visitors are the main target group, but later on, the system will work just as well for individual international visitors.

So far it has been quite difficult for them to access the Finnish nature, go bicycling or canoeing, as most services have been available for groups only.

The coronavirus has forced companies to invest in the future. If companies have the stamina and finances to pull through, there will be dividends for all the hard work later on.

Giving space for the “new normal” luxury

A desire for the outdoors and nature has risen in lockdown societies. Visitors want to avoid overcrowded destinations. That is why Scotland regards outdoor activities as one of the key opportunities for the tourism industry to recover. At the same time, Iceland is going to welcome international visitors to enjoy its wild nature already as early as in June.

In Finland, we also have plenty of forests and lakes for all visitors to enjoy. As this summer season will likely consist of just domestic travel, it is interesting to see what the Finns are willing to pay for.

Easy equipment rental is an obvious answer.

Perhaps a dose of luxury after a tough corona spring? An excellent meal outdoors instead of the normal sausage grilling? Lovers of the great outdoors may wish to enjoy and relax, but they may also like to do activities and even learn wilderness survival skills. Together with a guide, they will succeed in their endeavours. It is all about safety – on many levels.

Digital solutions and redesigning may convert services into more personal experiences. Added value is expected to resonate with satisfied guests and higher profits for the companies.

Also, small group adventures may be good for nature, as they provide an excellent possibility for the guide to direct nature lovers to behave responsibly. 

Reaching for the next level of responsible business

Trying to stay in business during coronavirus is a struggle for the travel and tourism companies. At the end, those who survive will most likely have taken huge steps forward and sharpened their business models.

If you got interested in the topic, please read our previous blog post on post-pandemic tourism destinations here.

*TOURIST project: The aim of the project is to create competence centres for the development of sustainable tourism and innovative financial management strategies to increase the positive impact of local tourism in Thailand and Vietnam. Read more about the project here.

Theme picture: Aku Pöllänen / Business Finland
Other pictures: Pasi Kosonen