GLOBETROTTING FROM HOME
Forbes India|December 18,2020
As people remain wary about travelling long distances, companies are relying on online tours with luxury add-ons and once-in-a-lifetime experiences to earn revenue
NAINI THAKER & MANSVINI KAUSHIK

Visiting exotic places from your living room and enjoying a cooking class from a world renowned chef are soon becoming the new ways of experiencing the world. As the fear of the pandemic prevents people from making ambitious travel plans, the industry is coming up with innovative ways to generate revenue, and at the same time, offer unforgettable memories to customers.

The travel and tourism industry is dealing with huge losses since the coronavirus outbreak. According to a study by the Confederation of Indian Industry and hospitality consulting firm Hotelivate, it is likely to lose $65.57 billion while operators alone are set to incur losses of $4.77 billion in the worst possible scenario. The World Travel and Tourism Council predicts the sector is likely to face 100 million job losses due to the pandemic.

Though the numbers are alarming, there is pent-up demand for travel. And people are slowly experimenting with staycations and short-distance trips. Modes of transportation, too, have become more intimate— like opting for self-driving road trips or choosing private charters instead of flying commercially. The recovery, however, will be slow. Here’s how some companies are changing with the times:

AIRBNB: ADDING NEW

To experiences Airbnb is bringing once-in-a-lifetime experiences to guests’ homes with its latest product launch. People can learn cooking a one-pot meal with a Michelin Star chef, learn the art of meditation from a Buddhist monk in Osaka, meet the dogs of Chernobyl or work out with an Olympian.

The online vacation rental marketplace has reinvented its strategy and launched ‘Online Experiences’ via Zoom that are led by hosts from over 30 countries. “This has become our fastest-growing product with hundreds of Online Experiences launched since April,” says Amanpreet Bajaj-GM India & Southeast Asia. “Our host communities got the opportunity to earn even as physical travel reduced.”

According to Oxford Economics, Airbnb and the entire ecosystem that it supports benefited the Indian economy by about $320 million in 2019 and supported 50,000 jobs in the country. The company claims to have nearly 100 hosts providing experiences online and thousands more who have offered to do the same.

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