by Sharina Ahmad
THE Covid-19 pandemic is likely to have long-lasting economic repercussions throughout the world which will prompt a lot of people to find alternative ways to make money.
The virus is impacting countless households when it comes to finances. The people hit hardest are the people who face lay-offs and job uncertainty, the people who work in the everyday sectors and businesses that are facing closure.
Many Malaysians will be forced to think out of the box and find ways to supplement their income and they would want to know how to make money during a crisis. Also, should businesses continue to make use of this downtime to digitalise, restructure, and transform?
Property marketing consultancy firm REI Group CEO Dr Daniele Gambero told FocusM that at this point in time, the company is going fully digital moving forward.
“We are lucky to have started this since last year. Adapting to a new reality and remaining in control of your business is important. Look at the market and check out all the existing pain points; each of them represents an opportunity.
“At the same time, we need to work with both young and old people, to be creative, flexible and willing to let go if something doesn’t work. But, if you keep on concentrating efforts and resources in it (what you have always been doing) you’ll be at the losing end.”
He noted that the company was operating 80% of its business offline and the remaining 20% online and it provides real estate consulting services such as market studies, analysis, feasibility studies, strategic marketing and few more services.
“In September last year, my sales team was almost 30 people and they are mostly working offline. Now everything has changed. On top of that, we will be launching a new digital platform to innovate digital marketing this month,” said Gambero.
Tour and travel agency Triway Travel Network sales and marketing director Syakir Akil confirmed that the travel industry has already taken a huge hit due to travel restrictions and cancelled trips for both business and pleasure.
“During this critical time, most businesses are affected. What we can do for the future of the business is to plan forward. We don’t know the situation (of the coronavirus outbreak) in the coming weeks or months and the current movement control order (MCO) is definitely not helping.
“But it helps to plan and think about how we can recover once this is over. The recovery will not be anytime soon, but at least we can get through this step by step,” he told FocusM.
With Ramadan (muslim fasting month) just around the corner, Syakir said the company will plan its business going forward, starting from October up to next year.
“We are looking for countries that have potential and are safe to travel to. The best policy is to promote safe travelling but we need help from the airlines to ensure the safety of the passengers, hence gaining their trust to travel again.
“Other than that, we hope we can start to plan for the upcoming Umrah season. As for now, the borders in Saudi Arabia are closed and no flight has yet to be permitted,” he said.
He claimed what affected clients the most is having purchased their flight tickets and now seeking refunds.
“This is a bit difficult for us. Some of them think it is easy to get a refund. But in fact, you have to see the terms and conditions of the ticket issued by the airlines. Most airlines have offered a non-refundable ticket and they are only entitled to change to other dates or destinations that are served by the airlines.
“We do have quite a number of people who want to change their plans but are unsure when a safe time will be for them to travel again. In some cases, people are really afraid to travel because of what they see in the news.”
Syakir noted that the downfall of the business started in January when the cases of the Covid-19 were high in other countries.
“The situation has affected 90% of the business for the past few months and we didn’t have enough income coming in. We have to restructure our finances and cut costs to sustain the business. If this thing prolongs for two to three more months, we might have to consider closing down the business.”
Nina Omar, the distributor for an American multilevel marketing company, Nu Skin Enterprises, said that with the pandemic and lockdown, all regular meeting sessions have been moved to online (on zoom and Skype).
“This includes product info sessions, team discussions and meetings, as well as business opportunity presentations. It has been a learning experience for us, having to alter a lot of our mindsets, as well as getting people interested to collaborate and work with us online instead,” said Nina.
However being in the health business, she said MCO was an important time as many people need to be coached and serviced.
“This keeps us going and the situation we face forces us to step up and make uncomfortable changes. We're blessed with the countless technological platforms that business people can leverage on nowadays.
“The key is to be willing to break through and make changes, be flexible about the way you do business and learn to use technology to your advantage. It takes a lot of mental strength to do this but if there's a will there’s a way. The strong will adapt and survive; we believe in this.” - April 6, 2020