Where there is challenge, there is possibility. In leaner times, organizations must be nimbler to seize opportunities to innovate for customers, embrace new trends and take risks. As organizations grow over time, they build processes and bureaucracy that slow their ability to deliver value to customers. Startups, however, live or die based on their speed to value, and this persists in their organizational culture and in how they work. By acting as a startup, businesses will avoid a return to old practices and be able to thrive after the crisis.
Before COVID-19, the travel industry had already been shifting toward digital business transformation (DBT) as customers shift their inspiration and booking behaviors online. COVID-19 has sparked the ignition for transformation in other industries such as retail or quick service restaurants (QSR) that are ahead of the recovery curve. As we consider the travel industry post COVID-19, embracing digital and startup principles are critical in addressing:
- Urgent health and safety requirements: The pandemic has shifted health and safety from a buying preference to mandatory requirement. Travelers will demand and drive their loyalty to companies that provide health assurances and new contactless options.
- Speed of agility: QSRs, by nature of their businesses, are used to a quicker pace of working that helps them move swiftly to innovate and address customer needs. QSRs have seen new patterns of speed where there has been a move towards bolstering mobile ordering, introducing lightweight contactless solutions throughout the payment and fulfillment processes and standing up new services such as markets and meal kits.
- New players and business models: There will be winners and losers. We will see consolidation of players and new business models emerge. We have already seen bankruptcies from companies like Hertz and LATAM airlines and a prolonged pandemic will create further strain. Routes will change as more airlines declare bankruptcy, and cruising will re-evaluate its high-volume models.
In uncertain times, where historical data is not a predictor of future need, a startup approach enables rapid and continuous product innovation to address new customer needs while capturing value. For travel organizations, this means plan around guest journeys focused on extracting value (with products and services) from micro moments vs. designing by channel or function.