Pivoting in a Pandemic for Leisure Travel Firms

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Posted on May 12, 2020
Photo by Aaron Birch on Unsplash

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Background

The spread of COVID-19 has catastrophically damaged the travel industry. With obliterated revenues, many travel companies are making drastic decisions: “How can we stay afloat until the travel industry resumes?” These choices often include massive layoffs, massive loans, or bankruptcy. How can a travel company pivot their business to stay viable during this pandemic? Can pivoting prepare the company to lead the pack when the travel industry bounces back looking and functioning very differently than it did pre-pandemic?

Benefits of pivoting a business model versus cutting back until travel becomes viable again include generating revenue when future revenue from the old model is uncertain, retaining employees, their expertise, and the costs of their training, and retaining existing connections with networks in travel destinations and with vendors.

Instead of targeting people who travel temporarily, a business can target people who are more likely to continue to travel during a pandemic for reasons such as work relocation, education relocation, or retirement relocation.

Traveling for work, school, or retirement is often a large ordeal, a long time in the making. People traveling for these reasons may be less likely to cancel their plans than people traveling for mere days or weeks - visas, jobs and academic programs have set start dates and timelines, homes are sold/rented, possessions are sold/temporarily stored until ready to move, and financial commitments at the destination may be ineligible for refunds, like purchasing a home.

Despite the differences between permanent and long-term migrants and short-term travelers, many needs and wants overlap, like exploring the destination, making local connections, and accessing local resources.

New Offerings

Offerings that the travel company might design for its new groups of customers may include:

  • Many of the same types of travel offerings made to short-term travelers:
    • Geographic destinations
    • Cultural attractions
  • Recommendations and discounts on moving resources:
    • Neighborhood/housing help
    • Locating grocers, banks, hospitals, and other essential businesses.
  • Connecting migrants:
    • Guides, organizations, social sponsors
    • Ex-pats from their own countries
    • Other recent migrants

Data Collection

Deciding how to pivot in an effective and efficient manner requires data. While one case study cannot be extrapolated out to all destinations, it can illustrate the questions and analysis needed to successfully shift. The case study included here focuses on migration to New Zealand, and includes a sampling of extensive and ongoing data collection. It is not a comprehensive analysis, and leaves many questions. The insights it does provide are an excellent starting place, and the questions it leaves allow for a deep dive into the expanded data collection and related data sets from other sources.

The data tables used for this case study were acquired from the New Zealand government:

The regional shapefiles were also acquired from the New Zealand government:

The data needed minimal processing - there were few null values to eliminate and no statistical methods were run on the data.

Interactive Visualization App

The app is a Shiny Dashboard app, the charts were made with ggplot2, and the map was made with Leaflet.

About Author

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Sita Thomas

Sita Thomas is a graduate of the NYC Data Science Academy's 420-hour Data Science Immersive. She is a two-time data science hackathon winner with a strong portfolio that demonstrates her ambition to offer comprehensive systems assessment and strategic...
View all posts by Sita Thomas >

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