What is the Kingpin Of Modern Business; Technology Or Government Regulations?

2020 might have been the year for technological advancements but technology alone cannot help businesses to strive.

The pandemic has been one of its kind. The first phase forced businesses to acknowledge the dire need for technological upgrade and an alternative business model. But was adopting sound technology enough?

Businesses like e-Booking platforms aced in the sphere of technology adaptation long before the pandemic. But the factor that impacted such businesses the most was the restrictions imposed by the Government. With the travel and entertainment industries coming to a grinding halt, the type of technology they used didn’t make a difference.

“Travel business had little choice but to manage the resources tightly to ensure that they battle the storm well and come out stronger. During this period, we focused on managing our costs to balance out the short term need and long-term sustainability of the business”. Vipul Prakash, Chief Operating Officer, MakeMyTrip added, “We took several cost rationalization and restructuring measures to reengineer our cost structure to make it more variable or semi-variable. This included cutting back on our variable costs as well as fixed costs including pay cuts and some unavoidable right-sizing.”

Whereas, with no surety of when the theatres would re-open, or the kind of limitations that will be imposed on opening, the e-Ticking businesses of entertainment niche had to think of an out-of-the-box fix for the situation. BookMyShow started with their online alternative of in-home entertainment.

Albert Almeida, Chief Operating Officer - Live Entertainment, BookMyShow said, “During the lockdown period, digital became the new medium to gravitate towards, with all stakeholders including the artists, content curators and consumers locked in. For both, our partners across the live entertainment industry and us, it became the natural platform to provide safe and uncompromised entertainment options”.

With situation improving and things getting back to normal, these industries continued to work under several restrictions; the seating capacity in movie theatres, buses, flights and trains were practically reduced to half. The norms of new normal added on to the additional costs to businesses. Safety and hygiene across all touchpoints are now a priority, and consumers prefer a tech-enabled seamless yet contactless travel and movie experience.

To ensure the safety of their customers, MakeMyTrip over-indexed on the safety and hygiene protocols with all their travel partners and worked on safety assurance programs namely MySafety on MakeMyTrip, gosafe on goibibo and Safety+ on redBus, to boost travellers’ confidence. “These safety programmes have been designed in collaboration with our partners to elevate hygiene and safety standards across all travel touchpoints. Build on 3S safety standards these programs focus on ensuring a sanitized travel environment, training staff to follow highest safety standards and hygiene etiquette; and implementing safe practices to minimize the risk of transmission”, said Mr Vipul Prakash.

He also added that MMT has introduced a comprehensive safety compliance & audit program for hotels, as per the guidelines of WHO and the Government of India, together with Deloitte. More than 2000 hotels registered for the hygiene and safety protocols audit. Vipul Prakash, COO, MMT also highlighted that they are offering a low-touch experience to travellers at airports and hotels. He said, “We have developed and integrated new workflows to allow travellers to do a web check-in for most airlines and contactless check-ins at hotels on the app itself”.

As soon as the theatres opened its doors for the cine-goers, BookMyShow rolled out their ‘My Safety First’ feature across its web and app platforms, in collaboration with cinema partners all over India. Created using robust consumer and data analytics, this feature highlights the best practices being followed by all cinemas pan India. COO, BookMyShow said, “‘My Safety First’ has helped in creating awareness amongst consumers on the various levels of safety and hygiene measures available across different cinemas listed on BookMyShow. Further, it has facilitated a safer and more secure movie-watching experience for users, right from the time of booking tickets to return to their favourite movies”.

He further added, “Various safety indicators available across every cinema, such as in-cinema alternate seating, thermal screening, contactless security check, availability of hand sanitisers, daily temperature check for staff members, availability of packaged food & beverages, limited occupancy in restrooms, compulsory masks, social distancing in cinema premises, sanitization before and after each show, amongst others, are listed on the platform”.

The year-end of 2020 was a spirit booster for these industries, as the restrictions were finally lifted and people started stepping out for entertainment and travel. The month-on-month traction within the hotel segment continued to grow strong in December with a 50% month-on-month increase in bookings primarily because of the holiday season. MMT reported that more than 60% of the bookings were made for three-star and above rated properties; and independent rentals and homestays that promised utmost safety and hygiene throughout the stay.

With the release of Christopher Nolan’s Tenet in early December, the box office sales also spiralled. BookMyShow contributed close to 55% of the movie’s box office earnings in India. A 3x jump was recorded in the sale of tickets from November to December on BookMyShow. They also sold almost 1 million advance tickets for superstar Vijay’s latest release Master.

With the roll-out of the COVID vaccine, these businesses anticipate a change in audience sentiment and hope that the demand and consumption for out-of-home entertainment and travel will increase in 2021.

2020 might have been the year for technological advancements but technology alone cannot help businesses to strive.

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