GNDU’s University Business School organizes Webinar-2.0 on “Managing the Sandstorm of COVID-19 over ‘THAR’ Desert”

Amritsar 20 May 2020: The University Business School of Guru Nanak Dev University organized a Webinar-2.0, as a part of  series of webinar, on Managing the ill-effects caused by the Sandstorm of COVID-19 over ‘THAR’ Desert, that’s on Travel & Tourism, Hospitality, Aviation & Retail sectors, as they have been and could still be the most affected industries by the existing pandemic conditions.

Dr.Jasveen Kaur, Chairperson and Head of University Business School of the University and also the Director of the Webinar Series on “Management Innovation” initially set pace for the webinar by highlighting as to how the travel & tourism, aviation, hospitality (hotels & restaurants) & retail businesses are on its knees worldwide since March 2020 due to the onset and spread of the COVID-19 pandemic. ‘THE MIGHTY THAR’ sectors are struggling to balance their envisaged growth against the current scenario and will have to adapt to a new normal to “Find an Oasis in a Desert”, by adopting innovative initiatives in order to avoid further subtraction from their revenue. Social distancing is the new mantra. Sanitizers, Masks, Gloves and Face shields are the new travel accessories.No one really knows, or can accurately predict when will the Span of active cases abate or cease going forward, even as search for a cure has still yet to bear fruits. In high density locations, especially, to go back on-stream seems like a far cry today, a risk no one willing to take any sooner than the next person. With current indications, the lockdown & curfew may drag on till the end of this year with varying intensities and impositions. The pick-up of the travel & tourism, aviation, hospitality and retail industries is the farthest in that chain, as it is inextricably linked to the return of normalcy, that too soonest if the damage has to be counteracted.

            Going with the theme of the Webinar, Dr. Kaur introduced a plethora of Practitioners from these sectors to the participants. The Key Speakers of the Webinar-2.0 have been Mr.Raj Raghavan, Senior Vice President, Indigo Airlines; Mr.Srinivasa Rao, Director of Talent & Culture, Pullman-Novotel New Delhi Aerocity; Mr.Venkataramana B, Group President, Landmark Group (Lifestyle, Home Centre, Max, Easybuy, Spar, Citymax); and Mr.Ganesh Subramanian, Chief Human Resources Officer, More Retail limited.

The experts delineated that the aviation industry would grow at a low rate though and probably would take 12 to 18 months to bounce back to new normal, yet the travel industry will definitely rebound under the revised guidelines.The experts anticipated that although the luxury segment of the branded hotels has been impacted very badly due to this COVID-19 and global pandemic, yet as compared to other European & Americans,occupancy level in India could have a greater opportunity to recover faster. However, the major concern is to address Guests’ physical and mental hesitations related to safety in hotels & restaurants and SOPs are being adopted to meet that.

Similarly, COVID-19 has been detrimental for the retail sector. Footfalls in ‘Brick and Mortar’ is going to be replaced by ‘Click and Mortar’. Currently, people are more inclined towards the essentials items than non-essential or luxury items and this purchase pattern would continue for a few months. E-commerce would increase in a much higher rate and online shopping, much preferred by millennials, would now be preferred by older people too. There has been drastic shift in customer behaviour shopping patterns wherein home deliveries is the new normal, but how the supply chain and omni channels cope with the challenges to circumvent the roadblocks is going to be the new standard in post-covid epoch. However, while customer retention is going to be the front cover of the business bottom-line, employee engagement will be all the more essential as the backbone to get the car wheels moving.

The presenters highlighted that the new strategies would target to meet customer expectations of safety norms in COVID-19 span. The personalized services such as human touch services may remain suspended for the time being and be substituted with the form of virtual assistance across the digital services through adoption of new technologies,automated digital systems and artificial intelligence. The speakers informed students and participants that restructuring, rightsizing and downsizing may be a need of the hour. In the coming months, nevertheless, rehiring will resume though with the caveat that a specialized skill talent than a generic skill will be the focus, to increase opportunities and values in business in Post-Covid19 era. Soon the world will seek to bounce back with innovative solutions of finding an ‘OASIS’ in this mighty ‘THAR’for the restoration process of these affected sectors and triggering off the revival of the economy, but for that optimism and patience is needed in present-day.

            The webinar was attended by more than 250 participants, majorly students and faculty across different departments and campuses of GNDU and other universities and colleges in the region. The webinar rounded off with a fruitful discussion session where students addressed their queries to the experts. The Webinar-2.0 was concluded by the UBS Webinar Series Director-Dr.Jasveen Kaur with vote of thanks to all the participants and Key speakers for making it a success and also expressed an earnest gratitude to University Authorities particularly the Vice Chancellor Prof. Jaspal Singh Sandhu and Dean Academic Affairs Prof. SS Behl for their encouragement and whole-hearted support for ensuring an uninterrupted interaction among the students and faculty across such innovative technology-oriented interfaces platform for academic learning and skill enhancement for all involved, especially the students, in the current unprecedented situation.

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