Wholesalers

“The pandemic was the best thing to happen to travel”: Bruce Poon Tip talks opportunity on the other side of COVID

Ali Coulton

Ali Coulton

Controversy is often a key ingredient in any talk given by G Adventure’s founder and CEO Bruce Poon Tip.

His talk at Travel DAZE yesterday, however, centred around a sentiment we never thought we’d hear uttered at a travel industry event.

Poon Tip spent nearly 50 hours travelling from Canada to Australia to appear at Travel DAZE yesterday, joining a stellar lineup of bright minds including Dr Karl, Justin Drape, Dr Nick Coatsworth, Leanne Harwood and LOADS more.

The Canadian entrepreneur told the crowd of travel industry professionals gathered at Paddington’s Palace Chauvel Cinema about the opportunities we face on the other side of COVID.

“Just prior to the pandemic, I don’t think the travel industry was in a very great place. I don’t think we should actually be trying to get back to normal,” he said.

“We were selling amenities and capacity instead of experiences. The commoditization of experiences was really what was happening.

“Because a lot of companies are public companies with shareholders who want to infinitely grow – it’s just not sustainable.”

Before the pandemic, travellers were more concerned with a hotel’s thread count than its destination, Poon Tip lamented, adding that those seeking the comforts of home should probably, you know, stay home.

I think that’s just a dangerous place to be for us as an industry,” he said, “if we’re just constantly selling amenities, and the destination is no longer important. I think that that’s where we were pre COVID.

“And that’s completely the opposite of what travel should be.

“But now, we are able to rebuild and rethink how we do everything. There is now opportunity for travel to become the transformational industry it has always had the potential to be.”

These are the themes touched on in a new documentary produced by Poon Tip, The Last Tourist, which made its Aussie debut just after Travel DAZE.

“It took us five years to make, but it’s doing incredibly well. We’re actually number two on Apple TV right now, after Jackass, which, I wasn’t aware was a documentary,” Poon Tip explained. 

“It looks at some harsh realities of what travel was pre-COVID, but it’s also a message of hope and potential.”

The crux of Poon Tip’s talk, though, was the opportunities travel faces on the other side of COVID.

The best thing that ever happened to us in travel is the pandemic,” he said, eliciting an audible gasp from his audience. 

“The traveller is going to change, the traveller is going to be more purposeful and meaningful when they travel because there’s going to be an inherent risk to travel.

“There are now all of these things that scare travellers and they need help navigating. The travel professional has become the most important thing.

“It’s really easy to book with the OTA online until something goes wrong and you need an advocate to speak for you when you’re stranded in another country.”

The most poignant change to the travel landscape though, according to Poon Tip, is a new focus on the destination. Travellers now care about where they are going, because it has become more difficult to get there.

“It’s a privilege that you get to travel internationally, it’s not a right,” he said. 

“It’s not going to change dramatically, there’s always going to be the mainstream capitalists, there’s always going to be the compound resorts.

“But there is going to be a small group of people and that’s all it takes to change how we look at travel. It will have a significant impact on our industry as a whole.

“We have to be ready to understand that they want something different. And they don’t want to get back to where we were before.

“And we as an industry have to be ready to embrace that.”



SEE WHAT PEOPLE ARE SAYING

One response to ““The pandemic was the best thing to happen to travel”: Bruce Poon Tip talks opportunity on the other side of COVID”

  1. Great talk from Bruce and hit the nail on the head with his comments about how unsustainable the industry was becoming, with short sighted emphasis on corporate profits priotitised over impacts on destinations, cultures and eco-systems. Mass tourism destroying the very things it was selling. A correction in course is long overdue. All credit to Bruce Poon Tip & others for having the courage to tell that to those parts of the Industry that sit in denial.

Leave a Reply

Wholesalers

Virtuoso uncovers key differences in how each generation travels

Meanwhile, Travel Weekly staff are conducting our own research to tap into the zoomer market by teaching the office dog TikTok dances. It’s not going well.

Share

CommentComments

Cruise

Royal Caribbean Group completes its comeback with all ships back at sea

To honour the milestone, all 63 ships in the group’s fleet sounded their horns at once, which most likely scared the sh*t out of nearby fishing boats and unsuspecting wales across the world.

Share

CommentComments

Travel Agents

Virgin teams up with Flight Centre for money-can’t-buy workshop

It’s the second time a Flight Centre partnership has come up this week and it’s only Tuesday! Skroo must be feeling extra convivial this week.

Share

CommentComments

Aviation

“It’s more like a bribe”: Unions slam Qantas’ $5,000 ‘thank you’ payment

Speaking of bribes, if anyone would like to bribe us with an all-expenses-paid trip to Japan we promise to give you a good review on TripAdvisor.

Share

CommentComments

Destinations

Solomon Islands to reduce mandatory quarantine

Good news for those looking to travel across the Pacific Islands! Not so good news for those who enjoy being confined to a hotel room for days on end.

Share

CommentComments

Hotels

Oakwood solidifies Aussie presence with full opening of Melbourne luxury property

Looking to treat yourself? Don’t get a chocolate at the shops, book yourself a stay at the new Oakwood property in Melbourne (or do both)!

Share

CommentComments

Aviation

Flight Centre signs landmark agreement with Rex as pilots prepare for industrial action

While seemingly struggling to win popularity among its pilots, the regional carrier has turned to its agency partners for reassurance.

Share

CommentComments

Cruise

Princess reveals The Real Love Boat crew, celebrates ‘Top Gun Agents’

Say a prayer for the poor souls tasked with wrangling a ship full of reality dating contestants hell-bent on getting frisky at sea.

Share

CommentComments

Destinations

How your clients can skip the rebound chaos with South America

Got clients keen to travel but hoping to avoid inflated prices and hoards of European Summer revellers? We’ve got the answer for you.

Share

CommentComments

Destinations

Events

Top 12 unmissable events for Italian summer trips

Summer in Italy means sunshine, gelato, promenading after dinner, Aperols overlooking the ocean, hiking, cycling…and a jam-packed events calendar.

Share

CommentComments

Aviation

Airport queues return in anticipation of the school holidays

If you were looking for a good chance to relisten to Led Zeppelin’s entire discography but can’t find the time, we recommend booking a flight to literally anywhere from Sydney or Melbourne airport this month.

Share

CommentComments

Destinations

Queensland government mulls tourism tax

In response to this, the NSW government will be introducing an ice-cream tax, which has infuriated primary school kids across the state.

Share

CommentComments