The worst of the storm is over, but dark clouds still linger in our Summer skies, after a catastrophic quarter for Tourism in Spain that has highlighted how necessary innovation is to survive the scenario left by Covid-19.
It was already a differentiating factor connected to Tourism of higher quality and more economic returns, but now client-centric innovation has become a cornerstone of a new context where clients require more certainties, confidence and an offer that is customized to their needs.
It is no trivial matter: The Bank of Spain estimated a 100% fall in activity within the sector during this calamitous quarter that started with the pandemic.
When will the clear skies return? It is difficult to know how long the health crisis will last, and how far-reaching its consequences might be. We can see, however, how it is giving rise to certain changes in the sector:
- From glocal to local: The domestic market will gain importance, at least in the short term, as a result of the restrictions caused by the pandemic.
- From mass tourism to quality tourism: A necessary shift to avoid crowds and, in passing, a way of increasing the average spend per tourist.
- More flexibility, to adapt offers to the evolution of Covid-19 or, for example, in policies for reservation cancellations.
- Greater business diversification in response to the impact of coronavirus on business and conferences.
- Hygiene will be vital: it will be connected to the level of trust among tourists, and will be the focus of their comments as predictors on the internet.
- Sustainability: the need for single-use materials should not have an impact on the planet and environment.
More innovation and customization, the Covid-19 antidote for Tourism
Adapting to the new normal and its demands is putting the client even more at the center of operations. It also forces us, more than ever, to rethink and explore new business models, or to build alliances with actors in our same sector, or in others.
Lastly, the health crisis reinforces the need to use digital channels to boost the sense of belonging among travelers, given the reduction in social interactions.
The World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) has opted for listening to ideas from different actors in the sector, in an open and collaborative approach to innovation, which seeks to build resilience in the sector in response to the pandemic.
What are the advantages of this type of model?
- By involving customers, among others, it accelerates the detection of client needs, to offer them a quicker and more effective response.
- It allows companies to access new ideas and visions beyond those of their employees and their traditional structure, and to build fruitful alliances with other actors and organizations with niche expertise (startups, innovation centers…).
- Reduces false steps: the road to adapting to the new normal is made simpler because the measures put into practice are contrasted through active listening to real consumer needs.
- Creates a community between a brand and its potential customers, in times of social distancing and fewer travels. Consumers are not disconnected from brands (brand recall), and they are aware of the brand’s effort to listen to them and adapt to the new situation (trust), and their desire to offer customers a pertinent and satisfactory experience.
An ideas lab for more innovative Tourism
In Spain, Grupo Hotusa is committed to this collaborative approach to innovation, through its community Hotel Tester Ideas.
With a consolidated base of followers-ideators, the group uses this community to bring its clients closer and overcome distancing, getting to know their needs and co-creating together to adapt their hotels to Covid-19.
Since March, the community has hosted ideas challenges to find ways to add elements that create greater comfort, just as time necessarily spent inside the hotel’s rooms increases, limit social contact through technology, or ensure greater safety during breakfast.
Along the same lines, the city of Santander is using its community for citizen participation Santander City Brain eco to gather ideas from its citizens that may reactivate Tourism after Covid-19, through innovation and sustainability.