Travellers will continue to insist on stringent health and hygiene protocols of suppliers well into 2021, says Dr Nomvuselelo Songelwa, Jurni South Africa CEO, on a prevailing tourism trend for 2021. Jurni, an online tourism hub, features various functionalities including a booking tool to improve the access of small and medium tourism enterprises to the global market and a visitor portal to showcase the South African tourism product.
- Ready for the Future? Follow SME South Africa’s 2021 Report to find out the trends that will affect every business owner this year.
Dr Nomvuselelo Songelwa on how traveller behaviour has changed, the rise of local travel and using tech tools to increase the visibility of tourism SMEs.
On the impact of COVID-19 on the Tourism Sector
Health & safety – The COVID-19 pandemic has had a significant impact on traveller behaviour. Safety is top of mind for everyone, not only when we travel. And, while the industry has worked round the clock to de-risk all touchpoints of travel to allow people to get back on the road, it will take a while before that confidence returns fully.
Travellers will continue to insist on stringent health and hygiene protocols of suppliers well into 2021.
Expert help – We can expect travellers to rely increasingly on the travel trade. They will want to speak to a travel expert to help them navigate an increasingly complex travel and tourism world with fluctuating rules and regulations.
Flexible booking and cancellation policies will likely continue to be important for travellers in the coming year. Consumers will want to have the assurance that they can cancel or change their booking due to COVID-19.
The COVID-19 pandemic has fast-tracked digital adoption among travellers. There has been a massive shift to mobile and digital, and this is likely to stay well into the future.
Value is another important consideration – Whether travelling for business or pleasure, money has become much tighter than it was going into the pandemic. The phrase ‘conscious consumption’ has emerged where purchasing is centred around basic human needs combined with an aversion to wastage.
On tourism trends and opportunities
Hype travel – With borders having been closed for such an extended period of time, travellers have gained a renewed interest for their own country as a travel destination.
It is important for tourism SMEs to continue to build and cherish the relationships with the local, South African traveller and keep them excited about their own country.
Tell digital travel stories – South Africa needs to start creating inspirational digital stories to inspire both local and international travellers to explore everything our beautiful country has to offer.
There is an opportunity for tourism SMEs to bring their tourism product to life by embracing technology. The tourism playing ground has fundamentally shifted. Technology-enabled solutions have become the main focus for anyone who wants to stay connected with their clients – in their own country and across the world.
Tech tools for tourism entrepreneurs
An equal playing field – For SMEs, the shift towards technology represents an opportunity to tap into tools and activities previously only available to larger enterprises. Effective customer relationship management tools are just one example of expertise that was only available to large corporations with impressive budgets at their fingertips. The majority of people – even in the rural areas – now have smart phones and are connected to the Internet. This expertise has become accessible to even the smallest players.
Market yourself to stand out – Visibility has become more important than ever for tourism SMEs. One way to do this is for SMEs is to make sure their establishment or service features an online booking platform, making it easy for aspiring travellers to book.
Market access – Often SMEs struggle to connect with local and international markets. An online booking tool, like the upcoming Jurni booking tool, not only bridges the gap – but also facilitates enquiries, bookings and payment.
In addition, an up-to-date, easy-to-use and effective booking platform gives SMEs credence and credibility.
Collaboration has become more important than ever before – There has been a call in recent travel and tourism webinars for the establishment of a centralised communications platform. Some of the industry players say it’s become increasingly difficult to communicate with the industry without including the media. By including the media, some messages attract unnecessary comments. That’s why they are looking for a credible platform where it is possible to interact with the rest of the industry. This is what we can offer as Jurni.