As the Covid-19 pandemic continues to throw new challenges to the travel industry, tour operators continue to come up with ways to keep their businesses running during these challenging times.
Faced with lockdowns and travel restrictions, businesses in the travel industry have definitely suffered massive losses in the course of the pandemic.
Travel agencies had to manage thousands of travel tour cancellations during the first wave of the pandemic, all while dealing with different customer behaviour and demands. Having no active travel tours means that businesses that rely heavily on them have no source of revenue.
As a result, tour operators have had to shift their business models to engage with current and potential customers, most of whom are stuck at home riding out the pandemic.
We may already be more than a year into the pandemic, but it seems like workers in the hospitality and tourism sectors still have a long road ahead.
Today, I’d like to share how tour operators around the world are adapting to the new normal and preparing for post-Covid-19 travel.
1. Digital experience
Many tour operators quickly adapted and found that digital experiences like virtual travel were a good alternative source of revenue during the first months of the pandemic.
People stuck at home were itching to have a change in scenery, and virtual travel allowed them to see something other than the corners of their apartments. It’s indeed the best way to see the world right now given that most countries still have travel restrictions.
It’s affordable, safe and sustainable, but the best thing about it is there’s no need to leave your own home, so fewer interactions and exposure to other people.
Joining virtual tours can be a great way to break the monotony of our everyday routine as we try to keep ourselves safe during these times.
2. Local tourism
There may be no better time than right now to encourage more locals to see what Singapore has to offer.
Many tour operators are currently doing this by highlighting the benefits of local tourism. As countries around the world continue to fight the outbreak, it’s the only way we can see and explore new places, even if we can’t leave the country.
It’s the most responsible option too, especially for those who have been wanting to escape their apartments since last year.
As a local travelling domestically, you’re already familiar with the safety and health measures, so strolling around other parts of the island will come easy for you.
The only challenge with domestic travel is how tour operators can make it as exciting and engaging as overseas travel, but it’s always worth reminding locals that there’s so much more to know about Singapore.
Fortunately, Singapore has slowly eased into reopening as 80% of its population has been inoculated against Covid-19, which is the ideal figure to achieve herd immunity. That means people are now allowed to move more freely, as long as safety precautions are observed.
(If you’re looking to see Singapore from a new perspective, get in touch with me at Monster Day Tours!)
3. Infection-prevention measures
Another way that travel agencies are making their services more attractive to local tourists is by focusing on their infection-prevention measures.
As a way to ease the worries of guests, local tour operators are providing their staff with Covid-19 safety protocol training and using it to promote their local tours.
The common safety measures observed by travel agencies include everything from air circulation down to social distancing and sanitising in high-touch areas.
In some domestic tours, guests are also kept separated to reduce exposure to other groups.
All guests are also required to fill out a health declaration form as a way of acknowledging the agency’s guidelines.
4. Smaller group tours
In the age of post-Covid-19 travel, tourists will likely prefer to travel in small, intimate groups. In response, tour operators are now limiting tour capacities to follow social distancing guidelines and minimise the risk of infection.
There’s even a trend in domestic travel where customers are booking tours as small groups of family members or friends, instead of going on tours with strangers. Because of this, travel agencies have opened more private group tour options.
In a usual group tour setup where there are about 20 participants, providing private group tours limited to friends and families seems to be effective to encourage locals to travel domestically.
5. Flexible booking policies and perks
It looks like most travellers may not be ready for international travel within this year due to the threat of multiple variants popping up.
Luckily, tour operators have found a way to make this work in their favour. As per tour companies, it appears like there’s a growing demand for international travel from 2022 to 2023 as customers are booking tickets as early as now.
To encourage more customers to book early, tour operators could offer perks like huge discounts and travel vouchers as a strategy.
Departure vouchers are another attractive travel offer, which allow travellers to book a trip without a departure date at a significantly lower price. Those who purchased these are guaranteed a spot on the first tour to that destination.
Another way local tour operators are adapting to the new normal is through more flexible cancellation policies. Given the unpredictable nature of the virus, the situation can get worse in a matter of weeks, which could mean reimposing travel restrictions.
In case the trip gets cancelled due to new restrictions, tour operators are now prepared to disburse full refunds quickly.
Looking for ways to travel?
As we find ourselves in challenging and uncertain times, it’s admirable how businesses in the hospitality and tourism sectors have found creative and ingenious ways to bear the brunt of the pandemic.
If you’re interested in trying a virtual or local tour yourself, don’t hesitate to reach out! I’d be more than happy to take you on a tour that can satisfy your travel spirit despite our current situation.