Revitalising the Travel Industry from the Impact of a Global Pandemic

By Vincent Ong

Pick up any article commenting on the state of the tourism sector today and you will see the same headline about how the pandemic has ravaged a US$1.7 trillion-a-year industry with over 100 million jobs lost. While Singapore has been a leading nation in introducing travel corridors with the numerous essential ‘green lanes’ established, leisure travel corridors – which enable safe travel to re-start – are also crucial in sustaining livelihoods and fostering the physical and mental wellbeing of a population.

The recent announcement of the Singapore-Batam-Bintan travel corridor will be the perfect case study on what it takes for countries to open up safely, especially in a region where many economies and livelihoods depend so much on tourism. Having played a key role in driving the joint proposal for the corridor to the relevant Singaporean and Indonesian ministries, it all boils down offering travellers peace of mind through the right hygiene and safety protocols.

Brands, including hotels, have similarly rolled out assurance programs to ensure a safer experience. We can expect to see many of these practices and protocols stay for the better as the expectations of travellers for a reasonable level of hygiene will remain post-pandemic. That said, the focus for the travel industry in 2021 has been shifted to preparing brands for a swift, decisive and impactful rebound.

Outlook of APAC’s Travel Industry

A recent Club Med survey on consumer travel sentiments revealed that the overwhelming reason for travel in Southeast Asia once borders are reopened will be to reconnect with family and friends. Additionally, “bucket-list” of dream destinations will no longer be a priority; What we will see is spontaneous all-out anywhere travel, where there will be a high demand for any destination that are open and perceived as safer. Combining the two elements, we will see a new trend of time-travel – where travellers seek to make up for lost opportunities and reconnect with loved ones in sometimes unexpected destinations.

When we did the same survey last year, most respondents said they would choose shorter-haul travel to regional destinations as well as shorter lengths of stay.  The year in confinement within Singapore has certainly affected sentiments.  This time around, we hear a large proportion of respondents saying that they will venture further and travel for a longer period of time.  It is no longer about pent-up demand, but a built-up arsenal. A combination of factors have contributed including an annual leave stockpile, travel savings unspent and being protected for the day travel restrictions are lifted, and with vaccination rolled-out in their home country and travel destination. It is clear that travellers are in high anticipation of the day international leisure travel restarts.

Thrive Again – Club Med’s Motto for 2021

Today, people are striving to get back to their best selves. Thrive Again is a rallying cry by Club Med to make this year count and to re-ignite our wanderlust. With this initiative, we hope to instil a new spirit of optimism in our guests, partners and local communities, helping to renew and inspire their journeys to rediscovering happiness. We continue to engage with our guests in order to remain top-of-mind through our latest travel content series – Thrive Again with Club Med. Offering more than just travel stories, Thrive Again comprises a specially curated selection of digital content including never-before-seen local destination insights for keen learners, exclusive travel tips and advice in preparation of the reopening of borders, as well as special features of go-getters within the organization and inspirational esteemed personalities.

Bringing the Vacation to You

As part of our initiative to help people to get back to their best selves, Club Med has also partnered with PARKROYAL COLLECTION Marina Bay to bring our inaugural Body and Soul programming right to the heart of Singapore. This partnership with the Pan Pacific Hotels Group is how Club Med is pivoting its business to bring the Club Med experience to Singapore where there are no Club Med resorts.

It marries the best of Club Med’s extensive and expertly-curated schedule of fitness classes, wellness workshops, with the hotel’s lifestyle offerings of farm-to-table experiences, spin studio and more. Enjoy unlimited access to wellness activities such as yoga and barre, urban farm tours, spin classes and Zumba, and a farm-to-bar cocktail making session – this one-of-a-kind wellness escape is perfect for those seeking an active staycation experience.

What’s Next for Club Med

Club Med has been delivering happiness on vacations for more than 70 years. A pandemic will not change our brand purpose. What our guests will experience the next time they travel to a Club Med resort will remain the same pre-crisis all-inclusive formulae of great people (our G.Os), full-on activities, amazing destinations and the ‘secret sauce’ of how we enable people to truly let go, feel free and share genuine moments with others. Even more appreciated would be the vast outdoors, spacious areas and that venture back into natural surroundings like beachfronts, forests and mountains that make up over 90% of any Club Med resort.

Despite the current pandemic, Club Med has recently unveiled Club Med La Rosière, our newest flagship resort in the French Alps, in December 2020 and we are also poised for continued global expansion with openings across four continents in 2021. These include the brand’s first ever resort in Canada, Club Med Quebec Charlevoix, the highly anticipated Club Med Seychelles which was just opened and a charming new resort in China, Club Med Lijiang, which will be opened in Q3 this year.

Another exciting project that we have been working hard on is an upcoming resort, Club Med Borneo Kota Kinabalu, opening in 2024. This highly anticipated resort will be our first greenfield of beach resort in South East Asia and will be the first beach resort we have opened in the region in the past 10 years.

Whilst both our Maldives resorts and resorts with domestic markets have opened in China, Japan and Malaysia, we look forward to the reopening of all APAC Club Med resorts by the middle of 2021.

Vincent Ong is Senior Vice-President for Commercial Southeast Asia (SEA) and Marketing Asia Pacific (APAC), Club Med