Traveller safety, new value propositions for new situations, differing COVID strategies per country, Environmental, Social and Governance Statements (ESG) and United Airlines having 15 supersonic planes are a few words that stick out in this interview.
Our next interviewee is John Pease, Senior Partner at Envision Group International & Vice President - Consulting at DigiTravel Consulting. Thank you John for taking the time to answer our questions.
What will be the most relevant difference in “post-crisis travelling” in comparison to what we were used to?
There are a few questions here. Firstly, traveller Safety with respect to personal travel safety and how corporations will manage this for their employees who are required to travel. Secondly, how will a Company’s benefits provider handle Covid related cases? Not all Countries will recover at the same time, which adds complexity. Because of these varied risks, I believe people will be more cautious, and leisure travellers will likely travel to places they know and have experience with.
In addition, business travel for the short/medium term (perhaps until 2024, even) will see companies define more clearly what is essential travel as opposed to non-essential, and the types of meeting can that be accommodated by Zoom or MS Teams.
Is Covid just another crisis for the industry to weather, like 9-11?
In a manner of speaking. However, 9-11 was an event that took place on American soil. That is, it was isolated, even though it impacted the world. COVID is truly global. The management of it will depend on each country and how countries cooperate with each other. In this way, it is not the same as 9-11. However, in time its impact will lessen as people adjust to the new environment.
Have the last 18 months forced your company to re-evaluate your value proposition?
As I work for a small consultancy, essentially no. However, because of Covid-19, our company was partially created because of it and provided us with a UVP, in helping other people and companies.
How will you measure and articulate your value back to market after travel resumes?
Our firm has created an opportunity for companies to develop efficiencies within their travel programs, which will enable them to reduce travel costs, increase traveller satisfaction, and help their companies on the road to market leadership.
What is your view on the industry’s reaction to crisis and what can we learn for the future?
As we progressed through the pandemic, the lack of a coordinated response globally from the UN, WHO and respective G7 nations, and in turn, the vast amounts of information and data, which was challenging to contextualize, was staggering. So managing that into a coherent strategy is vital for the future. We eventually will get there; however, many countries today have no COVID approach, and/or access to vaccines. This is a challenge, as it’s a global issue.
For example, my country, Canada, closed its borders to India, but not before the Delta variant had arrived.
We are fortunate that 72% (October 2021) of Canadians are fully vaccinated. However, the Delta variant is now the dominant version of the Corona Virus in Canada. This is why we need a global strategy.
Do you feel that current travel tech providers are able to react to new market demands?
I believe technology can meet the demands, and it’s evolving every day. I am not sure people can; change is difficult, as people react in different ways to change, and this is often compounded when forced.
Who do you think are the companies to watch in the coming years and why?
Great question and hard to say. From a travel perspective: Companies that are progressive and can be agile – ESG will become a critical issue as President Biden declare US corporations will need to have an ESG rating, and diversity and inclusion will be a component of ESG. Companies that can embrace this will have a competitive edge.
I’d watch Delta Airlines, Lufthansa and Spirit Airlines. I’d watch travel technologies companies to see what emerges – especially some JV’s or consolidation.
What do you think the market will look like ten years from now?
Well, by 2029, United Airlines will have 15 Supersonic Planes (called Ovation) in the air making EWR – LHR in 3 hours at Mach 1.7 fuelled by 100% recycled fuel with zero carbon offset!
If true, the world will look very different, yet the same.
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