Reinventing the World of Today with a Moral Compass


Ms. Bel Castro shares powerful and relevant insights necessary to revolutionize the new standards in the travel and hospitality sectors amid the pandemic.

Unawa, the most comprehensive regulatory tech start-up in Southeast Asia, conducted a free webinar entitled, Travel and Leisure 2.0: Reimagining the Travel and Hospitality Sectors on June 11, 2020. Ms. Bel Castro, the Assistant Dean of College of Hospitality Management of Enderun Colleges, was invited to partake in the online panel discussion.

Ms. Bel shared an extensive understanding and assessment of the situation from the advent of COVID-19. As an educator, she outlined the silver lining in the current online learning management system. She shares that some of her students found this set-up better, resulting in a more engagement from students. “The word that they use is intimate. There are benefits to this. [The] new normal, moving forward, we’re probably [going to] keep some of this. Now that we have this experience, the collaboration globally has been [immensely successful],” she explained.

Directing the core of discussion to the risk of spread of the disease in the travel and hospitality sectors, Ms. Bel emphasized that such risk and any other communicable diseases, even security risk, have to be managed. “I think this whole process, these last three months, globally, that’s exactly what we have been doing and that’s exactly why we have these guidelines. I would imagine that those risks must have been reduced by now.”

In addition, Ms. Bel believed that attaining zero risk is impossible. “I don’t think we’ll ever get to zero risk because there’s no such thing. The risk gets to a level that [is] manageable and should it happen, there are contingency plans and we have other ways of mitigating this.”

Significantly, Ms. Bel stressed the five key factors necessary to adapt to the new normal setting. These include hygiene, distancing, screening, testing, and culture compliance. “We started with the imposition of restrictions and threat of penalties, creating a culture of fear and compliance. We have to move away from that and move to a culture of community responsibility. If we come out of this, and we now have a society that’s more caring about other people, we will solve so many problems.”

Furthermore, Ms. Bel explained that it is essential to care about our safety and other people’s safety. These are the two things that are going to affect the choice we make as individuals, as consumers, as members of the hospitality industry, and all at large. The new normal is the behavior that is going to be guided by the new sets of values and priorities. “That’s the seismic change, psychologically, that has happened to everyone.”

In terms of business and economics, data is vital to target the market tighter. For hotels, deep discounting is not advisable. SMEs could have a hard time competing and it might only be possible for big industry players because of their larger inventories. “You have to be strategic. You either hang on to your prices and leverage the other things that you might have. It might be location [or] services because those prices will not be there forever and it’ll be hard for them to adjust actually as time goes by.”

What’s also important for brands today is to avoid hiding or disappearing from the people’s view. Companies affected by the pandemic can present the improvements being done and by showing how they are able to take good care of their employees.

“If you’re a big brand and you’ve not been doing any of this, the public is now perceiving you as a brand behaving badly. Let your customer know that you are suffering just like them. You’re taking care of your staff, primarily, because, by extension, they would believe that you will take care of them and this will bring dividends later on because no one is going to buy a product if they don’t trust you. That trust has to be built.”

Lastly, Ms. Bel wished that companies will be able to find a way to be more sustainable. She says, “If they can just find their moral compass and move forward with that. I don’t like the word reboot because that means you restarted your computer and you really didn’t know what was wrong with it and you’re just hoping that it’ll fix itself. Reinvent yourself but with a moral compass.”

Catch Unawa’s Travel and Leisure 2.0: Reimagining the Travel and Hospitality Sectors webinar here:

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