Boardroom briefing: socially distanced tourism, post-pandemic sustainability and popular products


Restarting tourism safely, going green in spite of COVID-19, and how to make your product a ‘must have’. Readings from around the world on business, leadership and management.

Socially distanced holidays

Credit: Visit Italy via Instagram

As Papua New Guinea’s travel industry met this week in Port Moresby to grapple with how tourism is going to look in a post-pandemic world, CNBC’s Global Traveler has an idea the pandemic may benefit less-visited locations like PNG.

‘An upsurge in COVID-19 cases is hampering travel to most of the world’s most popular tourist destinations – but less famous, more remote retreats are enjoying a resurgence,’ the reports suggests. ‘From hiking hidden hillsides to riding remote routes, there are plenty of ways to escape the crowds and have a socially distanced holiday either at home or abroad.’

As PNG looks to review popular walks like the Kokoda Trail, it may be that for the first time isolation is an advantage in the tourism sector.

CNBC suggests self isolating in an RV on the road of the US, hiking Italian hilltop homesteads and cycling secret pathways in France. But all its suggestions come with a common warning  – that things are changing so fast, any traveller will have to keep an eye on the pandemic situation in any country they are hoping to visit.

How COVID-19 might help businesses be sustainable

With the entire news cycle revolving around COVID-19, it can feel like other issues, in particular the urgent concern of climate change, have been pushed to a very distant second. But, according to Smart Company, the pandemic might be a real opportunity for businesses to focus on going green.

‘Counter-intuitively, the disruption of COVID-19 opens a window for firms to jump-start their sustainability efforts,’ the report says. ‘A key observation of the organisational change literature is the importance of “unfreezing” current practices before trying to transition to new practices. Most sustainability efforts effectively start at the second stage, trying to transition to new practices while the old practices are still frozen in place.

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But the pandemic has made businesses ‘pivot’ and change at such an incredible pace now can be an amazing time to get on top of a sustainability plan, while everything is in flux. But there are still challenges.

‘Making a business case for greater sustainability and then executing on it requires integrating sustainability knowledge – often highly technical – with hard and soft business skills including finance, change management, leadership, strategy and innovation,’ it warns.

Why some products become ‘must haves’

Video conference at the office. Credit: Zoom

BBC Worklife takes a look at what it is that drives certain products to take off, while others continue to gather dust on shelves.

The story starts with the global phenomenon of Uniqlo’s Airism face masks, that are hot property all over the world. Uniqlo’s sales are driven by fears over COVID-19, but what else is at play in popular products?

‘According to Hema Yoganarasimhan, an Associate Professor of Marketing at the University of Washington’s Foster School of Business, the answer lies – at least in part – in cultural capital,’ the article says.

‘People want to signal that they are “in the know” about cultural trends and associate themselves with products and experiences that align with their values and aspirations. This, even more than wealth, is the key driver of fashion cycles, Yoganarasimhan demonstrated in a 2017 paper published in the Journal of Marketing Research.’

Though it is not an exact science, a popular product seems to be a combination of luck, timing, utility and design.

‘With products that are more functional, it’s more of a quiet storm, where people start to talk about it on social media until enough people start seeing it,’ says Michael Solomon, an Independent Consumer Psychologist and Retailing Consultant.

‘At that point, a particular product’s soaring popularity is almost a self-fulfilling prophecy – or what marketers call a ‘flywheel’ – in which every satisfied customer brings more customers into the fold.

‘Look at something as basic as Zoom,’ says Solomon. ‘Nobody knew what Zoom was, and now all of a sudden everybody is sick of it.’

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