Travel agencies were among the hardest hit tourism businesses during
the pandemic. Even as travel roars back now, many travel firms must keep
evolving and developing more strategies to navigate the rough waters of
rising costs, staff shortages and other impacts triggered by the
Post pandemic, a resilience agenda requires travel agents to quickly
adapt and be decisive. Here are three ways travel firms in Malaysia are
Paying per assignment for non-critical roles
“The staff shortage has definitely affected many travel agents,” says
Khaw Aik Heng, executive director of Top Leisure. From drivers to
guides, Khaw says many staff left the business during Covid-19 to look
for jobs elsewhere.
Despite the lack of staff, Khaw says his company is not actively
recruiting and has turned to hiring part-timers for non-critical roles
who are paid per assignment. With new hires requiring training, working
with freelancers is also one of the ways his company manages their
cashflows and rising costs.
Going digital is a must
Many travel agents also say that the pandemic had pushed them to
adapt and get smarter at doing business, specifically by going digital.
Safar Trips first shifted their communications and sales channels to
WhatsApp, it was to help them overcome staff shortages. Soon they
realised that not only did their digitally-savvy customers appreciate
the change, but it helped them offer a more personalised service.
“WhatsApp Business API is a great enabler to reaching out to our
customers quickly and effectively,” says co-founder Rizal Mohamad.
“We’re able to reply to enquiries faster, including helping our
customers with issues such as cancellations or flight delays.”
Savvy out-of-the-box marketing
In catering to the generation of DIY travellers – who plan and manage
their travel online – travel firms have had to think out of the box
when marketing packages.
Kembara Sufi Travel played upon the nostalgia of the Prophet’s
stories by marketing its Egypt tour as “Jejak Rasul”, which translates
to “In the Messenger’s Footsteps”. In a savvy move, it launched the
package during Islamic Tourism Centre’s maiden Islamic Tourism Week in
Malaysia, a two-week event that showcases local and global diverse
Islamic Tourism and Muslim-Friendly touristic experiences.
Meanwhile, Safar Trip’s women-only scuba diving certification package
leverages on recent statistics that showed women are fuelling an
explosive growth in the travel industry. “It’s all about re-evaluating
the products offered to understand and attract new customers,” says
Rizal. “Upselling through experience or personalising a product really
helps us to strategise and weather these uncertain times.”