What are you waiting for..?
Updated: Jun 22
Last week, South Africa's President announced the reopening of a number of sectors, among which was the restaurant and hotel industry. While this has been the best news for some time in an industry that is truly on its knees, there is an almost morbid apathy by owners and operators of these businesses to implementing the prescribed standards and common-sense measures needed to convince the public to come back.
While the opening initially impacts the local tourism market - ironically with inter-provincial travel still banned, the reluctance by those still battling to come to terms with massive job and financial losses to implement measures and position themselves in readiness for business is clearly evident. What are you waiting for? Any hope that the government will simply abandon their somewhat draconian regulations - or that travelers and guests will turn a blind eye to window-dressing COVID protection, should be dispelled right now. Half-measures will land us right back where we've been and as a destination, South and southern Africa will be worse-off.
The biggest casualty in this entire pandemic is not the regrettable and unforgettable loss of life - nor the explosion of unemployed or even the financial crisis the world has been plunged into. It's going to be the base-rock of hospitality - trust and confidence, that will be the lasting victim of the virus, and each business owner needs to start now to rebuild these bonds with former, existing and future clientele. We need to remember that it was tourism that aided the spread of the virus and people across the world will be hesitant to travel for as long as a threat exists - no matter how minuscule the chance it may appear. As the European tourism and travel sector reopens, and the American's have never really stopped, we need to remind ourselves that now is the time to start attracting travel planners and itinerary compilers about your credible COVID avoidance measures and status.
There are going to be many businesses that decide to go with whatever minimum measures they can get away with to attract business - and that is going to create a very crowded marketplace indeed. But for those that adopt internationally recognised measures - and who get independent validation of their commitment to safety and health, the market is ready for you and you will get the lion's share. Don't rely on your past relationships with tour operators or sources, the way we work with one another has changed forever and they are as averse to risk as their clients. And stop waiting for the reopening of the regional or international travel restrictions, but rather get yourself ready now. Indications are that the travel ban will be lifted only in March 2021, but there is every possibility - and a growing chance, that this will happen sooner rather than later. Will you be taking advantage of this or still 'spooling-up' to attract business? And think about this - what message are you sending your local clients by waiting? Are they not as important as your inbound business?
You can sit and wait - and miss the most important promotional and marketing window in the history of modern travel. Or you can get your business COVID-safe and certified now, in your effort to rebuild the trust that we so badly need in our industry.