With the fear of COVID re-emerging – What can small businesses in the travel / hospitality industry do?

As news of the rise of COVID cases across China and South Korea spreads, the world is becoming worried about a re-emergence of new variants of COVID which could lead us back to the deadly scenarios we witnessed in 2020 and 2021.

Indian government has already asked all medical agencies to start sharing COVID data for genome sequencing to keep identifying variants. And China is trying to show lower COVID deaths by rephrasing COVID deaths as those caused only due to “respiratory diseases”.

Meanwhile, what about the small businesses in the Travel industry which were hit pretty bad the last time around due to the travel bans and lockdowns, and all the red tape that surrounded travel. How should they prepare for anything this big and unavoidable? Here are 5 points I thought of:


1. Reduce inventory idle time
In other words, it is the holiday season, and if any of your inventory is just empty or unused, start pushing your teams and advertise to get these utilized as much as you can. Pricing can be 1 key metric to play with, and attract as many customers as you can.

2. Saving & Planning for Disasters
There is no better option than to always save money and inventory for the “rainy days”. Most of the sensible travel entrepreneurs would already have savings plans. But my point here is, go through your disaster recovery plans and start saving according to those lists and criteria. Create a disaster management and recovery plan if you do not have it. Start now.

3. Plan to utilize your inventory during COVID
Governments need a lot of inventory during COVID. There was huge stigma associated with COVID the last time it happened. This time would be different – the stigma will be much lesser and people much more accepting. Instead of safeguarding your inventory against COVID, start to align with Government agencies to utilize your hotels and vehicles for COVID purposes. We saw this the last time – hotels being converted to COVID recovery stations for people who were classified as non-symptomatic. Restaurants converted to grocery stations. And so on.


4. Employees
Get necessary insurance in place to help survive the pandemic. For your self and your employees. Most employees returned to their own villages last time. For movable inventory like vehicles, you can even plan to let employees keep the vehicles and run the business remotely in their local areas where the lockdowns are much less severe and life much more normal. If you are fortunate, by the time this ends, you will end up expanding your business to more geographies.

5. Alternate businesses
Last but not the least, putting all your eggs in 1 basket is not a good idea. So look out for other industries to invest in, preferably those which are not directly linked to the Travel industry. Groceries, Healthcare, Technology, Stocks, Education and many other options exists which would continue to at least function, and not be fully stopped.

In summary, fingers crossed, and we hope nothing goes wrong. But if it does go wrong, remember, nobody is coming to help. Get yourselves prepared and start thinking of options to handle the pandemic better this time.

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