One of the hardest hit sectors during the COVID-19 pandemic has been the travel and tourism sector. With the new normal here to stay, Google Malaysia together with the Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation (MDEC) and the Malaysian Association Of Tour And Travel Agents (MATTA) are announcing a special webinar series that aims to help small and medium enterprises (SMEs) connect with local consumers online
The webinar series falls under the Mahir Digital Bersama Google initiative to help SMEs connect with local consumers online. The live stream sessions begin on 30 September and will run until the middle of October.
According to Google, Malaysian business owners and individuals will be able to sign up for the free training and equip themselves with relevant digital knowledge to help kickstart their presence online, and grow their business using various digital tools from this programme. Each of the sessions will be conducted by trainers from Google and will also feature a sharing session by an SME guest, the founder of a KL Chinatown locale Kwai Chai Hong.
Here’s the full schedule of the workshops if you are interested to catch them.
Google Malaysia’s country head Marc Woo said, “COVID-19 may have demanded a lot from us, but we believe it is possible to emerge on the other side bigger, better and stronger. We’ve seen people and businesses adapt with resilience, determination and ingenuity, and as we move towards Malaysia’s economic recovery, we believe the only way for us to go from here on out is upwards and onwards,”
“We hope these training would be helpful for Malaysian small and medium businesses within the travel and tourism sector as we continue on our road to recovery.”
MDEC’s chief executive officer Surina Shukri believes that the Mahir Digital Bersama Google programme will further accelerate MDEC’s goal in creating digitally skilled Malaysians and digitally powered businesses, especially in the tourism industry.
“Through this collaboration with Google, the programme will empower local SMEs in this sector to take the digital leap. We are confident that this programme will encourage more SMEs to fully embrace new digital tools offering a pathway beyond recovery from COVID-19,” said Surina.
Survey shows demand to travel is high
Google recently published a consumer survey it conducted which found that half of respondents in the Asia-Pacific (APAC) region are eager, or very eager, to resume travel. The problem however is that the region’s travel recovery is very fragmented as countries are currently in three different phases of recovery:
New normal: Government restrictions have eased with signs of sustained travel demand.
Transition: Government restrictions on movement; localized travel demand is starting to increase.
Early reopening/lockdown: Restricted movements imposed.
The findings from the study align with travel search interest where, in just three months, APAC has recovered around 50% of its pre-COVID-19 levels.
This shows positive signs that people are interested in testing the waters of future travel. They are also looking for information on how and when they could be jetting off on their next holiday while still keeping the health situation in mind. That means as countries start opening up, people will be eager to get out, and travel businesses must be ready to meet these potential customers with useful information that will help them plan.
The search giant’s research also uncovered three key learnings that can help businesses:
Fuel digital interest: Customers crave helpful information online.
Be relevant in COVID-19: Safety is the new brand, but perception of safety differs by country.
New way of doing business: The need to reignite Meetings, Incentives, Conferences, and Exhibitions (MICE) travel.
Even though there is pent-up excitement for leisure travel, the Mountain View-based company notes that there are still uncertainties surrounding the desire for business travel. The research showed that in China, the vast majority of travellers (53%) are still willing to travel for client meetings during the pandemic. However, only 39% are keen to travel for MICE events.
The fact remains that instilling customer confidence is key to reigniting demand within MICE. Some hotel companies such as Marriott International in China have started to introduce enhanced hygiene protocols for business conferences to encourage bookings. Governments also have taken an active role in attempting to reignite demand, with the Singapore government recently piloting an initiative to resume events for up to 250 attendees starting in October.