Tour operators must be prepared for future shocks or perish

LETTER | Anyone unprepared for future shocks would find it difficult to cope with the rapidity of social and technological change and could suffer from physical and psychological distress and disorientation.

A sudden awakening would overload an organization’s capacity for adaptation or decision-making.

In the travel industry, this is more the case for tour operators who create tour packages and provide services to their clients as compared to travel agents who do not provide services to their clients other than the reservation services offered. by principals such as airlines, hotels and theme parks.

Tour operators may be for overseas travel, and overseas tour groups are normally escorted by an attendant, who may be a staff member or a self-employed person to assist with check-ins at airports and hotels, and ensure that all pre-arranged services are delivered on time and to acceptable standards.

Local incoming tour operators accept bookings from foreign tour operators overseas or directly from inbound tourists prior to their arrival in Malaysia.

Customers of domestic tour operators can be any organization or person in the country, including foreign tourists.

Although the source of incoming and domestic tourists may be different, their tours are the same around the country. Many operate passenger vehicles registered under Bottom Persiaran that are different from those driven by customers because autonomous vehicles are registered under Kereta Sewa Pandu.

Staff who are knowledgeable in managing tour bus, vans and limousine services may not be able to handle the car rental service, as chauffeur-driven businesses are relatively straightforward if customers are willing to pay the cost of car rental. bus and tourist guide hire, which is often required by law.

But leasing vehicles to be driven by customers has many inherent risks. Aside from accidental damage and traffic violation notifications that could be received months later, some customers may not bother to return the rented vehicle if they think they can escape.

Even if the missing vehicle is fully insured under comprehensive cover, the insurance company will not pay any compensation because the vehicle was not stolen but voluntarily returned by staff to the customer. It’s a good analogy for tour operators who are unprepared for future shocks.

Without the Covid-19 epidemic, which turned into a global pandemic from 2020, the world would have made good progress, much like in 2019. Any attempt to convince tour operators to then prepare for the worst possible scenarios that could arise produce in the future would have fallen on deaf ears.

Emergency plan

Tragically, 2021 turned out to be even worse than 2020. It is certain that those who have learned no lessons and still do not prepare for future shocks would perish in no time, especially for tour operators facing a crisis. multitude of challenges. on many fronts.

If this is not entirely under the control of governments, how could they ensure the health, safety and security of their customers and workers in the event of a new pandemic, natural or man-made disasters such as riots? mass, terrorist attacks, armed conflicts or large-scale wars?

Without a contingency plan, most would stumble and grope when dealing with emergencies, accidents, fires, thefts, thefts and incidents such as lost or missing documents or passports, power failure or down system, website hacked or data stolen. , or even forged office locks with.

And then there are technological advancements and adoption such as the fifth-generation technology standard for cellular broadband networks commonly referred to as 5G, which telecom operators began rolling out in 2019 in some countries, and 6G which will be commercially launched in 2030.

Therefore, our National Tourism Policy for 2020-2030 which was launched on December 23 of last year contains six-pronged transformation strategies to be achieved through approaches that include enhancing competitiveness, developing tourism sustainability and disaster preparedness.

For incoming tour operators and tour guides, adopting the latest technology could mean using drones to improve the safety and security of tourists in remote areas or natural sites. Besides its own surveillance, the videos could also be streamed live to the nearest police station.

For tour operators and outbound tour operators, they need to ensure that members of tour groups can shop and pay using smartphones, as in China. They need to be on their best behavior because any crime such as garbage could be detected by facial recognition cameras.

Malaysian tourists who regularly steal items from hotels or stores abroad might find their habits costly as they might have to spend a few nights in a dungeon if they do not wish to settle privately with these establishments by paying a fee. large sum of money instead of a police report.

Previously, the only concern of international travelers was to obtain a visa and to have a passport in hand. Today, they must show acceptable proof of vaccination, check in at every place they enter, check when they go out, in addition to checking their temperature.

They are also required to wear face masks in public places, especially inside elevators, escalators, and public transportation such as planes, trains and buses. And if the masks are not worn properly and continue to slip, they could be captured by CCTV cameras and penalized.

For tourists who do not wish to adapt to the new standard, it would be a nightmare for them to travel, especially abroad. Indeed, many countries in the world would be very strict and enforcement agents would not compromise health, safety and security.

If foreign or incentive tour operators are unable to educate and monitor members of their overseas tour group, it would be best if everyone stayed at home where the penalties are less severe. Otherwise, many would suffer a brutal shock and have no excuse for tour operators.

To mitigate these risks, there must be a clear standard operating procedure (SOP) for routine work and strong contingency plans, which are SOPs for dealing with every possible disaster.

Otherwise, even the big reputable travel agencies could be totally ruined overnight and wiped out financially.

YS CHAN is a consultant and writer in tourism and transport.

The views expressed here are those of the author / contributor and do not necessarily represent those of Malaysiakini.

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