Industry Update
Opinion Article 6 March 2020

My Thoughts on the Impact of the Coronavirus on the Hospitality Industry

By Mark Fancourt, Co-Founder at TRAVHOTECH

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Just when all was looking upbeat for the start of a new decade with travel being ever so buoyant the unexpected takes place. You can't help bad luck and on top of talks of a possible economic slowdown in demand for the industry at the end of 2019, it's been punctuated with a distinct impact of almost a stop in many markets due to the CoronaVirus.

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As we look to maintain optimism, the reality is that business has decided to slow travel and major events. Such a catalyst of the reason for travel specifically for the event itself, as well as sideline business and bleisure travel having an additional impact on demand across multiple destinations. Leisure travel being discretionary, also follows in line with the uncertainty that the environment engenders. The potential for upside are several;

  • If planning capital projects, now is a time to deploy if operators are in a position to do so. The global financial crisis was an excellent time to undertake major capital works and prepare for the return of demand post-crisis.
  • It's also an opportunity to review business processes and look for optimisation in the short term that can also turn into ongoing improvements in the long term. Hoteliers are time-challenged under normal operations and a slowing of demand allows for introspective observation of the organisation with the time to make a real impact.
  • 'Spring' cleaning and maintenance work also sits nicely in this period where the guest's impact is limited.
  • Staff education and training are also opportunities that present themselves in periods of downturn.

The challenge will be for the industry to ride out the downturn with hopefully limited impact on operations and staffing. It is a positive sign that governments are recognising the impact on the tourism industry and putting in place funding packages to help the industry through challenging times.

Normally when such circumstances happen, as the crisis wanes we see a release of pent up demand as business gets back to business looking to restore opportunities and re-engage with the customer. The same follows for leisure with people feeling 'released' from their local environments.

As an industry, we have seen these circumstances throughout our history. While the end of year financial performance may not meet 2019's original budget planning season objectives business will return to normal, as it has proven to do in the past.

Mark Fancourt

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