MarketingCommunication, flexibility and trust are key for wellbeing of the travel industry

Industry experts discuss ‘Travel Beyond Covid-19’

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Virginia Ngai, director strategy at CatchOn, A Finn Partners Company (top right) moderates the webinar “Travel Beyond Covid-19”, which includes panelists Holger Jakobs (top left), Ian Moore (bottom left) and Guy Heywood, (bottom right).
Virginia Ngai, director strategy at CatchOn, A Finn Partners Company (top right) moderates the webinar “Travel Beyond Covid-19”, which includes panelists Holger Jakobs (top left), Ian Moore (bottom left) and Guy Heywood, (bottom right).

HONG KONG – What do you get when you gather three travel industry experts to discuss - via a webinar - the most effective ways to respond to the Covid-19 crisis.

The answer is some good advice.

Positive stories are also being communicated to keep the industry from total gloom and doom, and Ian Moore, chief commercial officer at private airline company VistaJet, has seen how VistaJet has evolved from being a luxury service to helping people get back together safely.

Guy Heywood, chief operating officer of Six Senses Hotels Resorts Spas,  said the brand’s top priority was to look after the wellbeing of their employees and guests.

With some properties closed and others running at low occupancy, Six Senses is offering online training for employees and posting health tips and free meditations for present and past guests.

“I think the most important thing to remember is who we are, what are our values, what do we stand for, and that we’ll get through this,” he said.

Mr Heywood and Holger Jakobs, vice president, sales & marketing of Wharf Hotels,  emphasised how their brands’ relationships with travel agents and tour operators are top priorities at this challenging time, with Mr Heywood saying Six Senses’ sales teams are working hard to maintain those relationships and work together in the short-term to plan for the rebound when it happens.

He urged everyone in the industry to  be as flexible as possible to avoid locking potential travellers and travel agents into bookings, avoiding cancellation policies and restrictions.

“I think communication is very important too,” added  Mr Jakobs. “That contract between guests and travel agents is always very important – to understand why I travel there, what experience can I have, what itinerary should I spend my time on.

“I think if both sides remember that, that communication is very important today, then we come out of this in a good, positive way.”

Positive stories are also being communicated to keep the industry from total gloom and doom, and Ian Moore, chief commercial officer at private airline company VistaJet, has seen how VistaJet has evolved from being a luxury service to helping people get back together safely.

He’s seen his clients sharing aircraft cabins with those struggling to get home. “It’s been inspiring to watch both our team and company and the industry draw together to get people home.”

Mr Jakobs, whose Wharf brand has a number of properties in China, added, “We are cautiously optimistic. [The figures] give us confidence that domestic travel in China is returning.

“In May the Labour Day holidays are coming up and we are looking forward to getting some more parameters at that time to see if we are making process.”

The webinar ‘Travel Beyond Covid-19’, was organised by branding and marketing agency CatchOn, A Finn Partners Company, as part of their CatchtheExperts series. The webinar was moderated by director strategy for CatchOn, Virginia Ngai.

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