It was just a day in the year 2020 when all of a sudden the whole wide world came to a halt. A year that had started with such hoopla and uproar, has faced so many challenges. Coronavirus, the pandemic that had caused so much pain and miseries to many of us around the globe, has also turned the year into self-learning and experiences. On that note, let’s rewind 2020 and see what is laying there in 2021 for industry veterans.
Mr. Rajeev Kale, President & Country Head – Holidays, MICE, Visa, Thomas Cook (India) Ltd., “The year 2020 has indeed been a challenging year for the travel, tourism and hospitality industry and has had an impact across – both organized and unorganized sectors –across tour operators, hotels, airlines, etc. At Thomas Cook India we took this challenge head-on and implemented our “Re-imagine Program” across businesses & processes, to adapt to the COVID-19 era of travel.
Based on the customer concerns and their need for ensuring health and safety in this COVID era, we had conceptualized Virtual Outlets and our Virtual Agency Network.
Announcements on the vaccine have ushered in definitive positive sentiment from India’s travellers and this has been reiterated in our Second Holiday Readiness Report (December 2020) which reveals a significant increase in consumer confidence in travel with 89% of respondents displaying keen interest to resume travel. 52% of respondents stated that they are likely to take a domestic holiday while 48% of respondents likely to take an international holiday.
Our survey also revealed that health & safety continues to take top priority in travel decisions with 93% of respondents highlighting this as the most important factor while deciding a holiday. We will continue our unerring focus on health and safety to bring confidence and reassurance to travellers.
71% of respondents stated that they require guidance from a holiday expert – human interface and guidance, understandable in this uncertain COVID-19 era. And we will continue to deliver meaningful innovations like our Virtual Holiday Store – an innovative, interactive sales and service platform that combines the power of digital with the much loved Thomas Cook personal – human connect.”
Mr. Deep Kalra, Founder & Group Executive Chairman, MakeMyTrip Limited, “Travelling is innate to humans and having spent time indoors people are yearning to connect, explore, and travel more than ever before. While COVID-19 had a crippling impact on the entire travel & tourism industry – the promise of an effective vaccine rollout is good news as the year comes to a close. Revenge travel is going to gain further momentum as we enter 2021. The massive pent up demand is going to fuel that need to travel further with a lot of people yet to take their first flight or first real holiday. Even with multiple variables at play, we remain hopeful that we will see a total rebound much sooner rather than later.
There is an opportunity in every adversity and we believe this crisis will help galvanize efforts to grow domestic tourism. With international travel remaining largely inaccessible to leisure travellers, domestic travel will continue to grow strong as more and more Indians look inwards to explore their own homeland. To seize the day, the government as well as the industry will need to rise to the challenge of transforming top Indian destinations as world-class tourist attractions. This requires an integrated, inter-sectoral approach and investment from the government to build supporting infrastructure while the industry should focus on innovation, stellar service and customer experience that will propel domestic tourism in India like never before.”
Mr. Daniel D’souza, President & Country Head, Leisure, SOTC Travel, “To ensure flexibility in booking with SOTC, we are offering customer benefits through flexible booking options, early booking advantages, minimal booking amounts, easy payment and EMI options, attractive discounts, affordable pricing, hotel upgrades, value-added services along with meticulous health & safety under the Company’s Assured Program in partnership with Apollo Clinics, exclusive Doctor on Call service (24×7) in association with Apollo Clinics, overseas Medical Insurance – cover includes Covid-19 related hospitalization. With all these benefits offered to customers, SOTC has witnessed bookings without any cancellations.
We have witnessed an expected rise in local tourism, offbeat places, wildlife tours. We saw great interest from honeymoon couples who wish to experience the thrill of wildlife holidays. With international destinations such as Dubai and Maldives reopening for tourists there has been pent-up demand. With a trend in Bleisure trips combining work and vacation, mini getaways offer a perfect opportunity for work-life balance through a rejuvenating escapade from one’s routine life.
With consumers opting for non-standard/eclectic accommodation such as a colonial bungalow, plantation villas (coffee /tea estates), heritage properties- palaces, to tap into the demand for non-standard/unique journeys, SOTC introduced India’s Hidden Gems.
As destinations ease restrictions and with positive news of the vaccine, there has been renewed consumer confidence to travel in 2021. With the distribution of the vaccine spread by the first quarter, we estimate business pick up in the coming quarters of 2021 with recovery towards the end of 2021 and full recovery by early 2022. Indians have been planning to utilize their balance leave to enjoy a well-deserved break with their families this year-end. To cater to this demand SOTC launched a series of exciting packages under the 72 Hour Flash Sale.
There is a surge in private accommodations and private tours with a Preference for longer stays in one resort/location. Families that have been separated now look towards multi-generational holidays to spend quality time with their loved ones that they have missed in lockdown. They are looking for Flexible or Personalized Experiences.
To adapt to the current situation we have reimagined our businesses to stay relevant to our customers in times to come. It is imperative that in this new world we strive to make travel Safe, Secure as well as pleasant & memorable for our customers. We’ve reimagined our customer journey cycles, digitized processes to make them contactless, invested in technology to create Virtual offices without compromising customer experience.”
Moksh Chopra, Chief Marketing Officer, KFC India, “2020 was indeed an unusual year and unprecedented times call for unprecedented measures. As a brand that aims to feed the world, we reached out to communities and people in need through our KFC Care initiative providing more than 10000 Thank You meals to healthcare practitioners, more than two million meals to a migrant worker, and daily wagers with our Feed a Million pledge, supporting the community of dabbawallas as they went out of work, etc. We planned for ways in which consumers can enjoy their KFC favourites and launched innovative food channels as Contactless Delivery, Contactless Takeaway & KFC-To-Your-Car/Bike to increase accessibility for consumers. We heightened our already stringent safety standards further by introducing the 4X Safety Promise to keep both, our team members and customers safe. Delivery & Takeaway continued to witness stronger growth, perhaps fueled by the extended periods of lockdown. With the several relaxations brought about by Unlock, customers started seeking means to step out and socialize, while adhering to the necessary norms of social distancing, safety & hygiene practices, etc. This provided a boost to our dine-in channel as well, augmented by additional measures as Contactless Dine-in, ordering through QR scanning, making digital payments, etc.; resulting in dine-in soon catching up with pre-Covid sales levels. Given our commitment to stay authentic and distinctive, we also launched innovative formats and value offers like Leg Piece bucket, Big Treat Week among others.
We are only hopeful that 2021 would be bigger and better. We will continue to stay abreast of developments in the environment and constantly upgrade our services in accordance. As an omnichannel brand, we assure our customers of safe, crave-able, and affordable food, with the continued reassurance of our 4X Safety Promise. With an equal focus on all food channels, our aim would be to increase consumer access points and bring them closer to their KFC Bucket. While delivery and takeaway are fairly popular channels already, we are hopeful that dine-in would continue to grow as well.“
Mr. Ashish Hemrajani, Founder & CEO, BookMyShow, “For over 20 years, BookMyShow has been fulfilling the needs of millions of people to step out and enjoy movies and live entertainment. Ever since Covid affected our lives the way we knew it, we have been adjusting to the changing times. Over this past year, BookMyShow has innovated with at-home, technology-led virtual entertainment. We wish to thank our long-term partners and collaborators along with whom we strived to bring great international and homegrown events with close to 6,400 digital events for our consumers. With over 80% of our events being ticketed today, it is evident that there is a growing demand for exclusive, curated, and premium live virtual events. While a complete return to out-of-home entertainment will probably take a few more months, we foresee the future of entertainment to remain strong as people love to socialize and get out. However, we think there is an opportunity for a hybrid model where both, out-of-home and a live experience on-ground may co-exist and BookMyShow will try and bring the best of both, to our consumers in India and across the world.”
Mr. Manish Sharma, President and CEO, Panasonic India and South Asia,
“2020 Learning and Sector Outlook
We are now at the last leg of 2020 and looking back I remember the excitement with which we welcomed this new year. We had plenty of plans and were looking forward to it as the year started. But 2020 has been a major setback for the world. Individuals and businesses alike were brought to an interim standstill. The consumer durables industry too had an impact with manufacturing and operations on hold, losses accounting for nearly 25% of annual sales; the summer season was a complete washout as well. It was a challenging year in terms of companies ensuring the safety of employees along with continuing the operations, all while adhering to social distancing guidelines. Then again, if we weren’t to be thrown off the track every once in a while, it would take away from us the opportunity to learn and grow – something that the year 2020 gave us in abundance – as individuals and as a community.
The pandemic changed the scope and range of home appliances that evolved from conventional to Smart, aiding in multi-tasking. During the pandemic, home appliances were a quintessentially perfect companion that helped consumers – keep entertained (LED TVs), helped in cleaning, staying hygienic (Vaccum Cleaners and Washing Machines), aided in cooking and storage (Microwaves and Refrigerators) and personal grooming (Trimmers, Hair Dryers) to name a few. Consumers today are seeking for value proposition having a comfortable, convenient, and connected experience to support their lifestyle. Towards this, at Panasonic, we introduced Miraie earlier this year. Powered by IoT and AI, Miraie is our connected living platform that has been developed in-house for our appliances and aims to enhance the quality of life through a connected ecosystem.
The festive sales have been positive, registering more than 30% growth over last year, primarily driven by refrigerators and washing machines categories. These products have seen a 35% growth this festive season due to WFH and DIY cooking trends. On the other hand, the demand for LEDs has surpassed the supply mainly attributed to the high sellout during the early months of unlocking.
Panasonic India with 48 years of continued commitment, with multiple manufacturing units across India – is here for the long run. We continue to stay invested, as we look for those green shoots to serve our customers with delight. Whether through our home appliance, our Miraie – IoT enabled, living spaces or, through our supply chain solutions comprising of smart factory solutions or, solutions for automotive – we at Panasonic, are constantly reinventing ourselves to provide a better life for consumers in these times. Recently, we introduced nanoe-X technology – developed by Panasonic Corporation. The nanoe™ X technology is – an advanced purification technology that is capable of inhibiting 99.99% bacteria and viruses, including the novel coronavirus. Acting as nature’s detergent, nanoe-X cleanses and deodorizes the air by producing and releasing nano-sized hydroxyl radicals (also known as OH radicals). This technology will shortly be available with Panasonic Air Conditioners to create healthy and safe indoor spaces.
We are looking at expanding our presence in rural markets, tapping the demand for automation and digitization, enhancing our consumer experience, and building trusted communities across our various consumer touchpoints. As a part of our robust omnichannel strategy to drive sales, Panasonic has been continuously working towards upgrading its online and offline channels to provide a better purchase experience to consumers. Overall home appliances as a category are on a rise due to pent-up demand. We are hopeful that this demand will sustain next year as well.”