Don’t expect business travel to bounce back anytime soon, said the startup founder

The coronavirus pandemic has forced the industry to rethink its operations, which, according to the two founders, have resulted in a “new normal” that must remain.
As physical stores close, many online retailers, said Ning Wang, co-founder and CEO of PingPong Payments, an e-commerce payment processing company.
While the tourism industry is expected to last for several years, Jason Song, Founder and President of PKFare said the digitization process for the tourism industry will accelerate.

The coronavirus pandemic has forced the industry to rethink its operations, which, according to the two founders, have resulted in a “new normal” that must remain.

Many retailers have been forced to turn to e-commerce platforms to survive the day-to-day devastation of the pandemic.

“Of course, what we’re seeing is the first impact (of) the retail acceleration from offline to online,” said Ning Wang, co-founder and CEO of PingPong Payments – a cross-border electronic payments trading company. He spoke during a panel discussion during CNBC’s annual Eastern Technology Western Conference, which was held remotely and on site in the Nansha District of Guangzhou, China this year.

Wang stated that there has also been a change in the category of items now sold online.

“Some categories related to leisure have, of course, been removed. But, for example, many hardware stores in the United States sell mostly offline. They are closing shops to keep everything online,” he said. “I think we are still seeing the general trend of digitization. E-commerce is increasing offline but accelerating in a chaotic way.”

As the pandemic spread across the world in January, countries imposed strict lockdown measures and traffic restrictions. Many shops are temporarily closed and most office workers have to work from home. The tourism and tourism industry is being killed in the process as people postpone business and leisure travel and many airlines struggle to stay afloat.

While the recovery of the tourism industry is expected to take several years, the digitization process for the tourism industry will be accelerated, said Jason Song, founder and president of PKFare who is part of the panel. PKFare is a travel marketplace for airline tickets and other hotel services.

Decline on a business trip

Experts say that even when the pandemic is finally under control and the tourism industry begins its recovery process, business trips will take longer than holiday trips as companies have shifted to the virtual gathering type.

Business travel plays an important role in the travel and hospitality industry, according to an August report by McKinsey & Company. Business travel spending was more than $ 1.4 trillion in 2018. Business travel is important to airlines and hotels “not only in terms of traffic but also in terms of profitability,” the report said.

Both Wang and Song said they don’t plan on taking a business trip back to pre-pandemic levels any time soon.

While face-to-face meetings with customers are essential, Wang said online communication is increasing the playing field for larger businesses with higher travel and entertainment budgets and startups.

“Everyone is using Zoom,” he said, citing an online video conferencing service that was gaining popularity because of the need to hold real-life meetings during the pandemic.

Looking ahead, Wang expects e-commerce penetration in the US and Europe to reach levels similar to those in China today, providing “unprecedented opportunities” for small businesses to do business.

According to the PKFare Song, five years from now, global travel will be much more personalized in terms of the deals and offers that passengers receive.

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