The sanitary emergency caused by the propagation of the Coronavirus (Covid-19), with over 190 countries struck and 50 of which with an elevated number of cases, has marked a “before” and an “after” across the entire world population.
If we leave numbers behind for a moment, it is still evident how the Covid-19 pandemia is having a worldwide effect over the population in general due to the various safety restrictions each country decided to apply. The closure of borders, the absolute home confinement in countries that were mostly affected (like China, Italy and Spain) and the closure of all non essential commercial activities are just a few, sad, examples. These measures, supported by other measures specifically taken for the tourism field such as the prohibition to travel or forbate to keep accommodations open, completely blocked the tourism field. Aside from the measures taken by each government there is also another factor to keep in mind which is the psychological reaction of tourists, understandably scared of being infected by the virus and economically damaged.
Various professionals in the tourism field agree over the fact that, if compared with last year, March has suffered a loss of 40% in terms of occupation. As this wasn’t enough, this contraction in the demand is becoming more significant as time goes by due to all the cancellations requested each day. Uncertainty regarding how and when this situation will be resolved along with the unpredictability of when fear will start to fade away makes it impossible, at least for now, to quantify the economical loss the entire tourist sector will suffer due to the Covid-19. On the other hand, dynamics of consumption, specially in the travel industry, have already radically changed because of uncertainty, austerity and loss of confidence.
We divided the impact this sanitary crisis is having, and that will have, over the population into 3 types: economical, social and psychological. We also believe they all interact with each other.
Economical - All non essential businesses have been shut down so many employees, and their families, have been thrown into a very precarious situation. It is pretty obvious that in order to foster, tourism needs the demand to invest in their leisure time so if there are less economical possibilities the entire tourism field ends up suffering.
Social - Due to the forced home confinement, people were forced to begin to do everything from home resulting in a reduction of costs and rationalization of consumptions. This modification may also have a definitive effect over consumption habits and push part of the population to rethink the frequency they go to the restaurant, for example.
- Psychological - From one side there is fear that will have to be dealt with and from the other the probable return to the old habits of doing things at home and to search for local products to be found in proximity of one’s home.
In any case, we would like to give you some hope from Icnea. If we were to look back to the 2008 world economic crisis, we would see how vacation rental was the niche that actually came out stronger compared to the hotel sector, which lost many positions. From one side families started to recognize and so prefer that comfort only vacation rentals could guarantee, and from the other realized it had a very positive impact on their vacation budget. They were able to eat in the property, without having to go to a restaurant, reducing significantly their overall vacation cost.
Keeping this experience in mind, it wouldn’t be so strange to assume that the entire tourism field recovery might be led by vacation rentals precisely.
Solutions and proposals
Keeping all the above in mind, we believe the right message to send to travelers is all about positivity and flexibility. Using less strict cancellation policies, being open to last minute reservation changes to save the reservation from cancellation, stimulating clients to reserve for future dates and being in constant contact with clients are just a few examples among many other options.
In conclusion, now is the time to plan and define how the business will need to adapt in order to restart in full in the next months.