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Businesses all over the world have suffered the consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic. Today, leaders from a variety of industries clue us in on what to expect in the Philippines

The COVID-19 pandemic has taken its toll on everyone. But individual affectations aren't the only things to consider, as the virus has prompted dramatic changes in societal systems such as businesses and how they operate. Last 24 February 2021, a panel of four experts from various fields spoke to us on Tatler Talks. Hosted by Stephanie Zubiri, the talk introduced us to Department of Tourism Undersecretary Benito Bengzon Jr., Executive Vice President of Shang Properties, Jose Juan Jugo, Asia Pacific Export Manager of Malongo, Michael Glaize, and Senior Vice President and Chief Marketing and Sales Officer of The Medical City, Dr Christian Delos Reyes. 

Each of these panellists helped enlighten us on the current state—and possible future—of their own fields: from tourism to medicine, to real estate, and the F&B industry. 

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1. Know What People Want

During this pandemic, it's important to understand our economies are faring under such strenuous circumstances as a result of how people are adapting to the times. Department of Tourism USEC. Bengzon Jr. assured us that the tourism sector is seeing signs of recovery but with the pandemic still ongoing, domestic tourism (not international) has become the focus of many tour operators, and even the Department itself.

People's preferences have been changing and so tour providers must also follow suit. According to USEC. Bengzon Jr., studies have shown that there is a growing preference for outdoor activities, making hiking and going to the beach popular choices. "People would be looking for low-density, high-impact activities," he observed.


2. Regain Trust

While some may suspect that the field of medicine isn't as affected—economically speaking—it's interesting to note that Dr Reyes shared otherwise. From 45,000 outpatient procedures per month, The Medical City now only sees about 20,000 or less. Fortunately, things are picking up again.

The doctor also noted that it might be due to another sort of pandemic, one that sees patients who are chronically sick, or who need "immediate or acute management", be too afraid to go to the hospital. Eventually, however, these patients can't forego seeing their doctor. "We want to regain their trust," Dr Reyes said of this. "I think it's survival of the fittest." This is why Medical City has done its best to ensure the safety of others, even creating a physical separation within the hospital between COVID-19 and non-COVID-19 facilities. These include separate elevators, equipment, in-patient rooms, and the link. 

3. Be Responsible

In real estate, things are a little more stable. "Property and real estate have been an investment of choice for many Filipinos for generations. We don't see that changing anytime soon," Jugo shared. According to him, property developers have been handling things well, especially at Aurelia residences for whom Jugo represents. Responsible actions protect and preserve capital values, which make real estate a relatively safe choice for investors. "It's a resilient industry," he noted. During this time, they've had to do more things digitally. While their sales galleries and client calls are still ongoing, there are limits to what they can do. Fortunately, their responsibility has paid off. "Our sales are there, not as good compared to pre-pandemic of course, but it is healthy and robust given the situation". 

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4. Get Creative With Your Customers

For the F&B industry, Tatler Talks welcomed Michael Glaize of Malongo. In speaking on his industry's current state, he noted that (especially for his brand), F&B is linked to tourism. Malongo is popular in restaurants and hotels, which have both been hit hard. There's also a change in the way people consume food, leaving F&B players at a loss especially when it comes to making contact with their customers. Hence, Glaize admitted that what was important to him was finding new ways to reach his customers. "I think there are always ways to grow in the industry," he shared. "You have to remain proactive." 2022 still seems uncertain at this point, but he also stressed the need for creativity in problem-solving. 

5. Remain Optimistic

Despite the variety of opinions heard during the hour-long talk, one convergent theme shone through: people are optimistic. While recovery isn't a stone's throw away quite yet, the economy has been seeing glimpses to better days to come. This doesn't mean that individuals should be reckless though, it merely means that as we continue to live with the virus, we're also learning how to do things better—and in turn, help our economy do better. 

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