July 25, 2024

Innovating our way out of crisis

As COVID-19 continues to have an existential impact on the global economy, Anne De Hauw, Founder of IN Air Travel Experience & Influencer, urges the onboard sector to listen to their customers and define solutions that can help them navigate these unprecedented and extremely challenging times.

More than ever is it critical to listen to your customers and define solutions to help them navigate the rough terrain, minimise damage and future-proof your relationship with them.

We are in a global crisis of a magnitude that has never been experienced before. People stop moving around, stop travelling, stop going out, stop spending: money stops circulating. All sectors are facing unparalleled disruption, but travel and hospitality are clearly on the top of the list.

Chances are that, once the virus is under control, we will be facing a new reality. We will have to reinvent the system, possibly by considering new opportunities for human creativity, a lighter environmental footprint, more conscious consumption and optimised local manufacturing.

Human engagement, health care, clear communication and transparency are critical factors for survival. More so, keeping your high-performing employees (your company’€™s greatest asset) close, by motivating and managing them carefully, tends to produce creativity, draw out improvisation skills and result in higher customer engagement.

During a time of disruption, a company’€™s top strategic priority should be to focus on and listen to their customers. Listen with empathy and emotional intelligence, try to fulfill their needs in this critical period as that usually makes the difference between whether that customer ultimately chooses to work with you or not in the longer term.

Another big benefit of really listening is stronger customer relationships and loyalty. After frequent interactions to support them as much as you can in this time of disruption, these customers start to view you as reliable partners, sometimes even friends.
And frequently, through this intense engagement, customers will discover and reveal needs they didn’€™t even know they had’” your inspiration for future product or services.

In the midst of the current chaos, it is resilience and and the ability to adapt that are key drivers if we are to identify opportunities.

Redirecting and restarting will require a lot of insight and audacity. We will need to build a new economy with refreshed values and ways of handling production, transport, distribution and retail.

The endless manufacture of nice-to-haves will be replaced by fewer and more desirable need-to-haves: less but better!

Entrepreneurs and visionary leaders will turn their customers into innovation partners and accelerate the creation of solutions that not only solve their problems, but also provide an exceptional experience that passengers will keep coming back for.
They will be creating data-driven solutions that are cost-saving, and combine digital innovation, environmental sustainability and customer-centricity. Those that get it right, will stand out from the competition and define the new reality.

A time of crisis can be an existential threat to current efforts, or a real opportunity to create true, value-driven innovation. Listen to your customers, position your organisation to be more flexible, responsive and socially oriented, and dedicate any resources you have to accelerating customer-centric innovation. This is critical if you are to help your organisation effectively navigate this unmatched social, sanitary and economic disruption.