COVID-19: Can Business Be Global Without Travel?

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As the coronavirus pandemic takes hold, international and domestic travel for the purposes of both business and leisure are becoming increasingly restricted, even illegal. The economic effects of COVID-19 on global gatherings such as conferences, festivals, parades, concerts, and sporting events, and on the travel and tourism industry will likely be on a scale not yet seen.

“We need to figure out what’s the perfect way to have Skype meetings or Hangouts meetings or how to hold e-conferences,” says TDA Founder and CEO Goran Deak. TDA was named a Top 50 Global Startup by Startup Grind Silicon Valley two years in a row.

Crisis time for the travel industry

While the tourism industry has faced crises before—most notably the 9/11 attacks—the added problem now is that no one knows how bad this situation will get or how long it will last. It is projected that the coronavirus crisis could put 50 million jobs at risk within the industry.

Aside from leisure and tourism, a large portion of revenue to the travel industry is generated by business travel.

The coronavirus accelerates digital communication

Although business meetings have been conducted virtually for many years, this crisis will mean that remote working will become widespread and long-distance meetings will be conducted via tools like Skype and Google Hangouts rather than in-person. The restrictions on movement caused by the coronavirus outbreak will likely mean that virtual meeting tools get better, and we all get better at communicating digitally.

Even as virtual communication decreases the need for business travel, there is one area that is slow to change. Many international conferences and events still rely on traditional forms of face-to-face networking.

Organizers to plan virtual events

Now, for global events requiring attendees to fly in from around the world, organizers are now scrambling to come up with strategies to stop from having to cancel events altogether. For example, Adobe announced that its annual live summit will take place online, with many other tech conferences to follow suit.

This poses a huge opportunity for virtual events start-ups such as Hopin and Run the World that promote a new culture of networking. Before the coronavirus crisis, the demand for these services was already on the rise. Now it’s through the roof. It is likely that this digital alternative will change the way businesses network for good and ensure that global events are crisis-proofed should a crisis of this scale hit again.

In this interview, we explore not just business travel, but how the entire travel and tourism industry will be impacted by COVID-19, how we can adapt, and how businesses can rebuild after the crisis.

Interview Highlights

On virtual tourism

You see a lot of potential now with really good cameras and 3-D technology and 360 technology that you could actually take advantage and create virtual tourism services for customers and virtual reality tourists.

On business travel

In this case, the change isn’t that hard and most people can do it, we just need to adapt. We need to figure out what’s the perfect way to have Skype meetings or Hangouts meetings or how to hold e-conferences.

On making the most out of the downtime

Now everything going into quarantine and being shut is a really good time to put your ideas on paper and see how many of them can we digitize. How many of them can we create a new type of experience and how many of them can we create for customers who are not physically attached to us, but who are living in a whole different part of the world.

On rebuilding tourism after the crisis

I believe that companies such as Netflix are now creating value and creating customers and after everything stops and we go back to normal, which we eventually have to, I think users with good experience and good communications from those brands will stay and continue to consume the services that they offer. I see the same potential in the tourism sector.

I don’t think people should stop doing what they’re doing…But at the same time, I think people, entrepreneurs, business owners, investors, banks, should take a look at how they can create new revenue streams.