Travelcheck CEO, Odette Faling, shares the lessons learned when her 10-month-old startup online travel agency was hit hard by the Covid-19 travel bans around the world.
Odette Faling, CEO, Travelcheck
Our focus at the moment is towards post-Covid-19, and we are busy adjusting our offering on our platform accordingly. We anticpate that after the crisis, we will see local travel increase first, although at an estimated 30% of pre-lockdown capacity with a gradual increase, maybe even a W shape recovery. Travel bans to international destinations will be lifted carefully and visas might be even harder for South Africans to come by.
Therefore we anticipate an increase in South African holidays to remote destinations. Prices will be lower due to lower demand but disposable income for many South Africans will also be lower due to job losses and by the weakened economy.
Since many suppliers are offering vouchers instead of refunds and most customers currently are happy to accept those, there will be an influx of travellers looking to use their vouchers in the next 12 months. So despite economic constraints, travel will still be required. Properties who make special arrangements to prevent the spread of the virus will be preferred by travellers.
We are seeing a trend in our customers’ behaviour towards accommodation packaged with experiences. This means that many properties will need to re-invent themselves and offer more than just accommodation. Our focus going forward will be on properties that entertain responsible travel and include experiences. Again, experiences need to be selected carefully and always with healthy and hygiene measures in mind, such as limiting the number of participants.
We are currently busy redesigning our Travelcheck platform to support responsible and safe local travel and experiences. Additionally, we are looking to integrate bookable virtual experiences. We plan to be ready for when the domestic travel ban at least has been lifted and accommodation establishments are allowed to operate again.
Odette Faling is the CEO of South Africa's newest online travel agency, Travelcheck.co.za. After 12 years in ecommerce she has gained deep knowledge in developing partnerships and marketing strategies to help companies grow.
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