Today's generation has evolved in digital formats on the click of a button, which, on or before 1990, was dependent on family conversations without much automation. The legacy of family history is digitally circulated, leading to a situation where past assumptions clubbed with today's perceived notions are bringing a huge gap. Simultaneously, working scenarios in the tourism sector have changed drastically. The situation is such, where people judge experiences based on images and not clarify the authenticity of the same.
India is experiencing a sudden surge in multi-approaches of destination discovery, which is considered as an opportunity across public and private sectors, predicting social trends and appetite for future communities. The tourism sector, in particular, aims for customization, and personalization without co-creation and aggregated showcase reflects the value of sharing without the dignity of labour. Since the workforce management in the so-called asset-light aggregation models is never aligned to the fluid business, it faces socio-economic and human resource problems.
The aggregation businesses are swamped by disruption through technology to offer authentic services, which increases financial burden as they intend to align enticing visuals without on-ground capability. Instead of creating customer delight, it hampers the experience expectations for the 'socially conscious' buyer. The lack of skilled people as capital (human resource) also adds to the stress to attract investments. The prime example of the dignity of labour is measured through the onboarded hosts, facilitators and guides who demonstrate pride in representing their community only, then the business becomes a role model for other community members. The dynamics have changed ever since the COVID-19 pandemic has hit the tourism sector.
With a colossal tilt towards virtual platforms, virtual engagements, and virtual reality - aggregation is gradually becoming the future. However, human emotions cannot be aggregated, especially when it comes to travel and tourism. Virtual and Reality are two distinct genres but now have become conjoined. When listed on the web as a service, an individual's style becomes a new type of sensory pleasure embossed by creativity. In this digital clutter-virtual maze, we often forget that 'emotion' sets the human race apart with robotics. Managing emotion-led product types for up-selling can be done by artificial intelligence. Still, it often fails in mapping the practical, humane values. Emotions override on any vacation and the stories connect us more to the location. Keeping in mind the gradual transition as we unlock the country and start embracing travellers, we have introduced ‘Stories on Wheels’ for city tours as a concept which ensures safe travels, in a controlled environment and unmatched storytelling sessions on the move. In the mid-COVID19 and post COVID-19 scenario this is our way in introducing a vital experiential product for the end users. Safety measures introduced to contain its spread are primarily social distancing which further brings the restriction in tour and activity businesses.
Like technological understanding, an aggregator also needs to systematically understand the geographic region that connects people, places, and cultures. This is crucial in bringing ‘place sense’ to each booking. The access to technology and up-gradation of applications does not help create experiences but provides a stop-gap arrangement in recreational opportunities. Skilled people are required to discuss such virtual opportunities with host communities.
Evidently, aggregation is gradually becoming a mainstream business, however, in tourism it is essential to pay attention to quality, customer experience, and risk control. In a country like India, we need equal intervention by both technology and the people's expertise. The definition of tourism holds many layers; it is not one component delivery. There are many stages through which one itinerary leads to an experiential holiday and creating transformation. There is a much-needed attempt to revisit the concept of business process re-engineering and address once again on the tourism business model to thrive in the sector. The time is suitable to create an understanding where we need to draw a line of academic influence on consumers or of aggregation. Sometimes inexperienced academic resources lead to unpleasant experiences, as the focus is only on one aspect of a destination. Similarly, the aggregators do not emphasize losses but seize the enriched opportunities, which can restore traveller confidence through listings and being visible.
Aggregation can facilitate part-timers, but sustainability would come only once this is dealt with professionally as a serious business. The new world, post-COVID, demands new understanding and revived business modules. The call for action is to evaluate satisfaction from cultural assets and become more competitive but take in perspective full account of future economic, social, and environmental impacts.
The time is now appropriate for 'resonating experiential delivery outcome REDO™' and reflect disconnects arising through collaboration with host communities and provide social security and basic income generation opportunities. The need of the hour is to be agile, adapt, and grow.
‘City Explorers’ (a private limited company in India) brought community engagement models to increase an area’s visibility, and promoting cultural heritage across India. The flagships are shifting paradigm in the soon to be ‘new normal’ for the travellers to discover India and enhance their continuity at the destinations through 'India Heritage Walks', 'India with Locals™' in the form of intrapreneurial platforms. The organisation is creating frameworks for community enhancement, capacity building with a safe ecosystem approach. Passion and respect for cultural heritage are integral to the way ‘City Explorers’ and its several flagships deliver travel experiences India. In these unprecedented times the businesses have to mitigated challenges by not only thinking about REVIVAL but also CREATION. The creation of products, jobs, assets, and management of open spaces has regeneration opportunities.
In the unprecedented, abnormal conditions, when the COVID19 cases are spiking every day, it is crucial for us to understand how the tourism industry will move its course with or without skilled people. The aggregation models post COVID-19 have to communicate the transformation effects on the environment when the services are purchased and consumed. The intent of businesses in India working to onboard people has to align with 'experiential delivery in tourism (EDiT)' that will provide a much-needed boost towards achieving 'Atma Nirbhar Bharat' (Self-Reliant India), as envisioned by Honourable Prime Minister of India, Shri. Narendra Modi. The self-reliance agenda will create entrepreneurs and make India win with increased efficiency in various economy sectors.
India is known for service, and now it is time to show and create that difference. Technology acts as an enabler with significant implications of the identification of resources who are non-reactive and non-judgemental. Through aggregation and virtual platforms, the business opportunity to share ‘Incredible India Stories’ is immense, but so is the burden of offering authenticity and making sure the value of money spent is satisfactory to all concerned.
The stakeholders have to facilitate programs to celebrate India's diverse culture, ensuring that our country's legacy remains open to access and pertinent to everyone, without losing integrity. Skill enhancement becomes an essential factor for internal and external tourism business transformation to bring authentic experiences based on people's values, interlinking the economy, and a healthy life.
In present times, the business intent should be to offer memorable India discovery linking local lineages and make a positive impact on people's lives.
About the Author
Dr. Sachin Bansal, is the Founder and Chief Explorer of ‘City Explorers Private Limited, India’, with two decades of experience, he has multiple flagships functional in the arena of community impact and destination product creation within the tourism industry. As a destination branding specialist, he has coined the conceptual acronyms and led the co-creation through ‘Experiential Delivery in Tourism (EDiT)’ and ‘Resonating Experiential Delivery Outcome (REDO)’. For IP related enquiry or for more information can reach Dr. Sachin Bansal on firstname.lastname@example.org
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