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Are smaller establishments better off post-Covid?

Destination Garden Route - open space in nature

When the lockdown was imposed on South Africa, the tourism industry was hit hardest.  While bigger companies might have had bigger financial reserves to navigate this storm, smaller companies and SMME’s could actually have been seen as better off.  Whether one looked at repatriation flights for guests still in the country, cancelled or postponed bookings for future travel, staff numbers, insurance claims and relief funding applications, the workload – although overwhelming high – seemed to be less for smaller companies, merely due to the actual size of the business.

While bigger companies were still ‘going through the motions’, smaller companies were already looking at adjusting their offerings to comply with Covid-protocols and – depending on their source markets pre-Covid – realigning their marketing strategies to tap into these (new) markets post-Covid.

Accommodation establishments both large and small have been going through similar adjustments, with bigger establishments like hotels taking a huge knock in revenue, having to retrench staff and – at this point in time – not knowing when, or if, they will be able to operate at full capacity again.  Smaller establishments are in a similar predicament, but on a much smaller scale.  Worst case scenario to return to full operation is only once a reliable vaccine or treatment has been fully tested and will be easily accessible in the market.

Are smaller establishments better off?

When one looks at what travellers worldwide are looking for in the post-covid world, it becomes obvious that ‘big gatherings’ are not at the top of the ‘wish list’.  This may be to the detriment of large venues, hotels and hotel groups, as these are traditionally geared up for big groups to bring in the revenue to sustain these large businesses.  Should big groups not be feasible in the foreseeable future, will these large establishments be able to attract enough business to sustain themselves financially?

Or will the consumer be more confident in booking smaller establishments, with less guests and staff?  With a smaller number of people in the establishment or at the venue, and consequent lower risk of potential infection, this may just be what the guests will be looking for, giving smaller establishments an edge they may not have had before.  And may be being small is a good thing yet again.

The Garden Route and Klein Karoo are known for open spaces, friendly people, quaint towns and ‘dorpies’ and a variety of accommodation establishment to match. 

Destination Garden Route will be launching the Garden Route Collection of independently owned and -run establishments, activities, restaurants, etc. later this year.  If you are an operator wanting to hear about it first-hand, subscribe to our newsletter today.