How Businesses are Adapting to the New Normal
There have been countless threats that posed challenges to our society and our economy, either be it small in scale or large scale. However, even with these obstacles, we humans have proved to be resilient. The SARS-COV-2 also known as coronavirus or simply as COVID-19 took the world by storm. The virus quickly spread worldwide and caused socio-economic implications that affected numerous industries in the world. Various individuals have shared their thoughts on the issue and have concluded that Coronavirus will permanently affect our society as a whole, and will be one of the main drives for the ‘4th industrial revolution’ on a macro scale.
The Philippines has faced countless reforms over the years, but nothing has come close to the gravity that coronavirus has displayed. With the business industry deeply affected by the pandemic, we are forced to adapt to the new normal.
Over time, we have experienced a steady surge in meal kits worldwide. These are when the customer is sent ‘kits’ that contain predetermined portions to make meals on their own. Colene Tan, the owner of ‘Simple Roots Meal Kits’, follows the thematics of those businesses. The vision of her business is to be the “top of the mind online Filipino food destination”. To make food that matters, that aids the minds, the bodies, and the heart, whilst maintaining the serene and fun cooking experience for everyone. Frozen meals have become quite popular nowadays, especially since it offers flexibility and ease to the customers and are ready-to-eat whenever the customer wishes to do so. ‘The Good Tapa’ is another textbook example of these establishments. The owner, Geremy Kho, offers a variety of Tapa meals, depending on what you prefer whether it is sweet, garlic, or even spicy. ‘The Good Tapa’ is purely based online, and the flavor profile of the frozen tapa packs does depend on how long you cook it (Instructions are provided in the packaging).
Francis Dolojan’s ‘Leverage.ph’, is a financing and lending institution that connects start-up businesses to preferable investors and lenders by evaluating their financial needs. Lending companies are beneficial to start-up companies that don’t have any means of financing their start-up capital. Travel Agencies on the other hand have been around for years. Kristen Medina’s travel agency, ‘Travel Unlimited’ and her self-established business ‘Kris10 Travel Inc.’, assists travelers with their travel arrangements both internationally and domestically.
Some of these businesses, such as ‘Kris10 Travel Inc.’ and ‘Travel Unlimited’ were negatively affected by the pandemic. With both being travel agencies, Kristen had to deal with the pandemic preventing people from traveling due to safety concerns as the numerous countries enforced travel restrictions and bans. Taking a toll not only on Kristen’s travel agencies but the other travel agencies around the globe as well. Due to a widespread decrease in economic activity, ‘Leverage.ph’ was also affected by this change, in every possible way. Francis and his business had to go through hindered cash flows, clients had to back down due to the pandemic, and he even had to close some of his businesses due to the change. It could be argued that most service-providing businesses were the ones that were gravely affected by this turmoil.
On a different note, Colene Tan’s ‘Simple Roots’ was very fortunate to have started the meal kits business online. Due to consumers not leaving their homes because of the pandemic, it is much safer to turn to alternatives, such as meal kits, pushing more people to buy their food online. If the consumers aren’t too keen about preparing their food themselves, ‘Simple Roots’ recently added ‘ready-to-eat frozen meals’ to their roster, further providing convenience to their customers. Before the pandemic, ‘The Good Tapa’ has since closed its stores and smoothly transitioned entirely to online services. With this, Geremy Kho and his business weren’t so badly affected. In fact, because of the large demand for online services, ‘The Good Tapa’ benefitted from this with their remote services and frozen tapa meals for the convenience of their customers.
Many businesses had to undergo several changes. Many had to get rid of unnecessary costs because of this. Francis had to relieve some of his staff to streamline the business for the pandemic, an action that the lion’s share of the businesses here in the Philippines had to unfortunately do. Some also had to diversify, as was stated with the diversification of ‘Simple Roots’ to frozen meal alternatives. With opportunities present in e-commerce, ‘The Good Tapa’ changed by solely focusing on the online platform, with the addition of the advantages that arose from the pandemic. As travel limitations and bans have eased up in the Philippines and other countries, travel agencies had to implement various changes as well. ‘Kris10 Travel Inc.’ and ‘Travel Unlimited’ had to cooperate with hotels and various tourism industries to ensure the safety of the travelers. To guarantee the safety of her clients, Kristen had to partake in meetings with international tourism committees, but she also updates her clients with trends or any swift changes that have occurred.
When they were asked if they reckon these changes would be permanent or temporary after the pandemic has dissipated, the answers leaned more on the permanent side. But of course, this depends on the industry that the business is in. Kristen hopes that the travel bans and restrictions would be lifted as soon as possible. Although she believes that some aspects of the travel industry such as an increase in the use of biometric scanning, electronic boarding passes, and solidified airport security, would stay permanent. Geremy has stated that ever since ‘The Good Tapa’ has fully transitioned in the online landscape, it has been easier in terms of keeping the overhead costs such as rent on the down-low. A situation that works in the business’s favor, because of the widespread use of online food services, in which he would prefer these changes be permanent. This is further solidified by Francis’ who also thinks that most of these aspects would stay permanent. Describing it as similar to a ‘scar’, as he believes it will be more normalized as the world continues to change and evolve through the years. Colene’s answers depended more on the ever-changing and unpredictable nature of our planet. She believes that consumers may come back to the traditional way of purchasing food but there will be a demographic who will prefer ordering online.
As was articulated earlier, there has been a steep increase in the demographic that depends on online services. It is undisputed that competition is relatively constant to consumer demand and this is an issue that has been brought up by Colene and Geremy concerning the food industry, in which their businesses operate as well. Although, even with a high concentration of the market, there will never be a lack of customers for all these firms in the food industry. It could be argued that rather than focusing on these competitors, trying to look for unique and trendy ways to attract customers would give a better placement in the food industry, as well as adapting to the constant change would also be advantageous.
Kristen also shared her take on the future of the travel industry. It was brought up earlier that the changes that were established due to the pandemic, will be a permanent change. This includes more prevalent improvements in the security and safety of the tourists. Additionally, she also believes that there will be further improvements to convenience in the industry; a factor that constantly improves throughout the years, not just in the traveling industry, but in the other industries as well. When asked about the future of the finance industry, Francis had stated that there will be a battle between automation and personalization in the future. In a sense that personalization will allow for better customer satisfaction between transactions and an increase in efficiency when it comes to automation. These are the two paths that the finance industry can digress into in the future, this could also be said with the other industries, especially with the rise of technology in recent years.
So far, the businesses featured are currently doing well. Just like other businesses, they have stumbled from the beginning, due to the roadblock that took the world by storm. However, they continue to thrive and adapt to the ongoing widespread cataclysm that our world is facing and will continue to charge ahead with whatever the future holds. Businesses must be flexible in the environment they are in, this is essential for the business to survive, and may even be beneficial as a factor of growth in the future. The world is dynamic, instead of trying to control the world the way we want it to be, it is best to change according to its will, as its unpredictability is a force simply too powerful to harness. This is best represented by a quote from Kakuzo Okakaura, “The art of life is a constant readjustment to our surroundings”.
If you’re interested in buying meal kits and frozen meals from Colene Tan’s ‘Simple Root Meal Kits’, you can check them out on www.simpleroots.ph. You can also check out the collection of frozen tapa meals of ‘The Good Tapa’ by Geremy Kho on their website, www.gubbyandhammy.com/collections/the-good-tapa/. Interested in ‘Leverage.ph’ by Francis Dolojan? You can visit their website on www.futureleverageholdings.com. With Kristen Medina’s ‘Kris10 Travel Agency’, you can check them out on their Facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/kris10travelinc.