Episode 2: BC, Global. DC, Local. AC, Which Way Forward?
BC (Before Covid), we lived in an open, global world where travel connected 1.46 billion of us in 2019. DC (During Covid), looking at the UNWTO Tourism Recovery Tracker, as of December 2020, international tourist arrivals dropped by 74%. DC, the world went local, and the impact will be felt deeply in the AC (After Covid) era. What happened to global brands which depended on cross-border travel? What has happened to travel unicorns and their dreams of global network effect? What will happen to local tourism businesses which built for a global world? How do we build stronger local roots, bring back global, and build back better?
What happened to brands with global dreams in the Year of No Travel? How are they thinking about the future? What happened in 2020 that made them rethink their business models, their organizational structures and their view of the future? What are they doing to prepare for an AC world?
Yeoh Siew Hoon
In March this year, Singapore-based growth equity investment firm Asia Partners closed its inaugural fund Asia Partners I LP at US$384 million in commitments. In 2019, the year of its founding, founding partner, Oliver Rippel, told WiT South-east Asia could produce between 20 and 30 unicorns. And he believes that in travel, local heroes can win over global players. We catch up with him to find out if his views have changed DC and how he sees the AC tech startup space in the region.
Yeoh Siew Hoon
It is widely believed that domestic travellers are more difficult, demanding customers. Was this borne out in hotel reviews in 2020 when most travel was local? Did negative reviews outnumber positive ones? Does culture have something to do with it? We ask someone who’s paid a lot of attention to this space to do an analysis and share her insights.
As part of our “Bridging China with Asia” series in collaboration with TravelDaily, we put the spotlight on China’s second largest hotel company by number of rooms, HUAZHU Group (NASDAD:HTHT), which has made moves into the luxury and upscale segment. Once on an expansion path, has Covid changed its plans? How is it thinking differently about its products and future? What secrets can it share about winning AC, whether locally or globally?
Chief Commercial Officer
What happened to travel searches when the world went local? What signals can we glean from this quick analysis of search patterns on how consumers are dreaming and thinking about travel? Could it give us clues as to which light is coming on first, at the end of the tunnel? We go searching for the answers with the world’s biggest search engine.
The shophouse is to Penang as the ryokan is to Japan and villas are to island destinations such as Phuket. All represent authentic experiences in their respective destinations and were desired by inbound travellers. Their stories of heritage and culture resonated with foreign guests and in the last few years, ryokans in Japan opened their doors to foreign guests in line with Japan’s inbound tourism boom. How did each of these entrepreneurs adapt DC, and how are they preparing for an AC world? Should they adjust their experience for a local and regional customer, because longhaul may take a while to return? Plus, we take a bird’s eye view of the impact on local economies in tourism-dependent destinations.
Yeoh Siew Hoon
Setting The Stage:
Partner, Dubai/Public & Social Sector Practice
McKinsey & Company
Georgetown Heritage & Hotels, Malaysia
Co-founder & CEO, PerkUP, Japan
Montara Hospitality Group
Imagine. You have 1,252 rooms in one hotel and 778 rooms in the other. Throw in 70,000 square feet of event space. Oh, and wait, your hotel is situated in small city state of 5.89m people where there is almost zero domestic market, and you’re mostly about corporate travel and MICE business? How do you survive a global pandemic which shuts down borders, where your staff are at the frontline, where all your revenues dry up almost immediately? Yes, it’s been quite a ride for the Raffles City Convention Centre and its two hotels, Swissotel The Stamford and Fairmont. Let’s dig into the case study of how this city property rode it out, adjusted its business and the cool things it’s done in the past 12 months, from farming to IT.
Yeoh Siew Hoon
Fairmont Singapore and Swissôtel The Stamford
In this session, where anything goes, we throw out our lifeline to a foreigner trapped in paradise as he shares the joys and pains of being confined to a local world when once he roamed freely like the global soul he is.