The Covid-19 global shutdown has taken the travel industry back to ground zero, G Adventures founder Bruce Poon Tip says, offering travelers and travel companies an opportunity for a much-needed reset.
Poon Tip explores the evolution of travel and what he asserts is the need to get back to the basic reasons behind it in a new minibook being released today, titled "Unlearn."
The book highlights tales from his own travels, the sustainability values at the core of G Adventures and the evolution of mass market products like cruise ships and all-inclusive resorts, which he asserts have made amenities more important than destinations.
The key takeaway from the pandemic for travelers before they hit the road again?
"For people to get connected to the destination, for the destination to actually be the reason why people travel," he said in a May 8 interview. "We've lost that. People book based on amenities. That is what is being sold and the destination now has become irrelevant."
With the travel shutdown, he said, all companies will have to restart from ground zero, "and we all have to transform to realize how we connect as a planet."
As for his own business, Poon Tip said the pandemic has taught him that G Adventures needs to tighten up considerably.
"Because we deal with a lot of small, family-owned businesses, things got quite loose for us in terms of relationships, contract payments," he said. "Now we are dealing with it on both sides, with us owing people and people owing us."
Poon Tip says now that G Adventures has gone through the tough process of downsizing staff and dealing with other immediate impacts of the global travel shutdown, it will begin reassessing its products for a post-Covid travel world, including whether to offer more local and shorter experiences as travel restrictions are lifted.
"We are having those discussions now," he said. " But we haven't hit bottom yet. While we're freefalling, it's hard to look until we land."
The e-book is available free on Apple Books. Poon Tip has written two other books: "Looptail: How One Company Changed the World by Reinventing Business" and "Do Big Small Things."