The 4 Ws: The pandemic imperative for tourism, education, work and quality of life

We predicted back in March and April that tourism in the future will depend more on high-end offerings guaranteeing safety, hygiene, relaxation and comfort, and that top-end hotels with offerings for private wellness, relaxation and meditation would fare better during the pandemic. And indeed, according to data by the Relax Guide, high quality wellness hotels in Europe did not only fare better than low-end hotels, they found themselves fully booked and could even increase prices. 

We predicted that online learning will see a sharply increased use and that schools are now “learning their lesson”. And indeed, as schools and universities switched to distance learning, they also improved their services in this area. According to data by Austrian universities, positive approval ratings by students for distance learning as compared to traditional learning increased from 60% to 90%.

We also predicted that businesses will increasingly switch to teleworking also after Corona and stated that this creates the opportunity to create more flexible working hours. And indeed, cumulative data by Magenta (formerly Deutsche Telekom) reflect that through working from home, online data usage increased 40%, while voice calls increased a full 100%. Working hours became more flexible: peak usage started earlier, at 5 am in the morning, and ended later, at 7 pm in the evening. Furthermore, according to a survey among Magenta users, 80 percent of users stated that they found the switch to home office professionally beneficial.

The workplace is also changing as new efficiencies are introduced. Corona has forced many businesses to streamline their operations to stay profitable. For instance, Anantara Hotels, a large hotel chain in Thailand and other countries, has created new efficiencies to cope once the country reopens its borders. Due to the prolonged closure of the country to tourism, Thailand’s GDP, which depends to over 20% on revenues from tourists, is seeing a dramatic reduction. Also robotics businesses have surged, as robots help in creating new efficiencies and streamlining production processes.

A survey taken after the October elections in the city of Vienna provided a good insight into the current psychology of consumers. The most important motivators for the choice of political parties have been, in descending order: Quality of life, job security and job creation, affordable housing, the improvement of schools and education, and commitment for the elderly.

Top motivators for the Vienna elections 2020. Respondents have been asked to rate the importance of a topic from 1 (very important) to 5 (not important). Find the full list here. Data by the Market Institute.

The experiences with Corona effected a dramatic swing in positions and outlooks. Before Corona, populist parties driven by fear of immigrants thrived. Now, people attach more importance to their quality of living and the welfare of society in general. We think that these topics will be main drivers for politics and business for a foreseeable time. That also indicates that Joe Biden has a motivational advantage over Donald Trump in the current climate of customer sentiment and hence a higher chance to win the forthcoming US presidential elections.

What does all that mean for management, marketing and product development? In our opinion, the focus should be on the 4 Ws:

Wellbeing, Wellness, Welfare, and WWW

Strained by the experiences of government lockdowns, consumers are longing for wellbeing and wellness while being more aware of the welfare of the societies they live in. For tourism, this means wellness experiences such as spa landscapes and yoga classes. For other businesses, this means to emphasize product aspects for comfort and good living, while status-driven aspects are becoming less important. As consumers have an increased sensitivity for the welfare of the societies they live in, companies which conduct positive social initiatives will have an advantage. In politics, drastic lockdown measures which lead to economic losses are incrasingly frowned upon. Finally, as online shopping, online learning and online working have seen an unprecedented boom, businesses will have to focus more of their efforts on seamless customer experiences on the World Wide Web.