Re-opening during the COVID-19 pandemic
What did you find the most difficult when it came to reopening? How did you overcome this difficulty?
It has been quite challenging for everyone, and it is not different for us. However, we structured this business in a way we can go through moments of low demand like the one we are facing right now. We are a small team who love to reflect and are not afraid to take a step back when we feel it is needed. As a digital service that empowers mindful travelers to create personal travel journals, we never had to “close” our shop. Although we have to overcome some new challenges like other companies.
The travel industry will be in transition mode for some time. We need to have this in mind to understand how we can deal with its consequences and opportunities.
As an action plan, it’s important to better understand what are the challenges we want to face from now on, instead of discussing the current difficulties. But the good part is that a lot is already happening, indicating us a possible way to the future. We are talking about trends in the industry. We can highlight some:
- The first concerns mutual aid. We have a feeling that interpersonal relationships between professionals have become stronger. It is happening to the point of breaking down walls and allowing cooperation between companies that would take years to happen. Several companies in the sector are helping each other and sharing knowledge in a truly worthy way.
- The second concerns the creation of an agenda based on values that focus on the industry’s long term. We are talking about terms like responsible tourism, slow travel, sustainability, and local tourism, arising exponentially.
- And the third concerns the private sector promoting real change. We cannot generalize, but we are privileged to be in an industry where the change for good comes from different parts: people, companies, governments, etc. Businesses that are born with a responsible plan gain strength every day.
Everything is changing. We don’t know for sure in the long run, but in the short run, everything will be quite unusual. To improve the future for good we have to accept the reality and start choosing the challenges we want to strive.
How did you come up with a strategy for reopening?
We had long meetings for discussion and reflection. It was also the ideal time to improve the platform for the better, develop new features, and have brainstorming sessions with ideas that could contribute to the current situation.
Also, we kept our eyes and ears open. We decided to participate in other networking platforms for travel professionals to learn about and contribute with other businesses.
Additionally, we attempt to strengthen ties with former partners. For example, Louise Zastrow our founder, has joined the DTTT and their Tourism Rescue team. But the most important thing was that we gave it time and we are still trying to do so. We have given ourselves time to be “silent”, also in our communication and simply try to listen.
This all helped us to have the inspiration to continue on our journey with the company.
What changes did you come up with, in your strategy or day to day operations?
Speaking quickly of structure, a good part of the team is divided between Denmark and Brazil, so we already work remotely regularly. Also, we were already used to working a few days a week from home, instead of our co-working space. We now adopt the working-from-home format 100%. However, to keep nurturing social relationships, and not just professionals, we keep meeting for breakfast once in a while. Unfortunately, we can’t do the same for our colleagues in Brazil right now so we schedule regular talks that go beyond Work.
In terms of strategy, we are learning about other markets and understanding the relevance of our product to different traveler profiles around the world. We also understood that we have an essential role to push an important agenda. We decided to use our role as “collectors” of content to gather stories from this quarantine time that should not be forgotten. We are talking about some positive side-effects of the lockdowns, like the stories of drinkable water in the Ganges, a once again visible Himalayas, dolphins playing again in the Bosphorus Strait, but many others. We are going to co-create and publish a book with local stories, shared by people. It will be a book of events we think should stay and become the new normal.
Just to give an idea, we’ve been receiving submissions from strangers all around the world.
They told us, for instance, about outdoor parties in NY, that are bringing neighbors together, and a decrease in premature births in Denmark, which is suspected to be linked to lower levels of stress among women who give birth. It is always fascinating to read these stories, and we can’t wait to read the next one!
Once the book is complete we will share it with Destination Management Organizations (local, regional and national), Strategy Makers, and Policy Makers to remind them what to include in their future work for years ahead.
Do you feel ready to adapt to new developments (a 2nd wave, or a new pandemic)?
We wouldn’t say ready, because each challenge is unique. But arguably more resilient and mentally more structured.
What are your expectations for the future (how do you think COVID-19 echo time will impact the sustainability/green agenda)?
We think the future is a reflection of the decisions we make in the present. Travel Kollekt is committed to embracing more slowness, reflection, and cooperation. And we are not alone on that. There are already countless cases of how the sector is dealing with the topic, promoting local tourism, encouraging sustainable transportation choices, giving more attention to over-tourism issues, and hearing voices that are promoting a conscious perspective. We believe that all of this is here to stay, which means that it is not just about expectations, but about cooperating and taking action to design the responsible agenda we want to build right now.
Travel Kollekt team.
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