SELANGOR, Malaysia: Tech-based solutions and storytelling are opening doors for survival for Malaysian travel marketplace LokaLocal, as they use their key strengths to pivot and persevere during the pandemic.
With the travel ecosystem suffering one of the biggest hits from the global crisis, the team has been busy adopting new strategies, such as offering video production services to businesses, and launching online experiences for people to explore Malaysia through a different lens.
To LokaLocal CEO Chin Yoon Khen, this marks a transformation in the way people travel, and the team will be moving towards this in the months to come by integrating virtual technology and visual storytelling.
“Earlier this year, we started a content and marketing arm called MY 360 Playbook. Within 28 days, we were able to hit 1 million reach without boosting. Apart from raising awareness for local destinations, we have helped businesses through video marketing and branded content,” he said.
To generate revenue, LokaLocal is providing their video and content marketing services to local businesses in need of brand presence during these challenging times.
The platform has also initiated their Online Experiences, where people can connect with their pool of local experts virtually via online classes and webinars. Among these, guests can learn to cook nasi lemak and chicken rendang, enjoy a virtual visit to Kampung Baru, pick up the ukulele, or join an Ayurveda session.
While online experiences are nothing new, LokaLocal presents an opportunity for local tour operators and workshop owners in Malaysia, allowing them to tap into their technology and reach out to a global audience. For local experts whose revenue streams have been cut off by the pandemic, this move can offer them some income.
Hope in Uncertain Times
Like most businesses, LokaLocal is badly affected by the coronavirus.
“Since the outbreak and the movement control order in Malaysia, we have recorded zero bookings. For some local experts, it means losing their only source of income,” Chin explained.
“We have done the best we can to cut our costs. Our team have agreed to take a temporary 10-50% pay cut. We even moved offices to lessen the financial burden. I am incredibly thankful for having a team who gives their all.”
The team realises that tourism may only get back to ‘normal’ once the world fully recovers from the crisis, but this timeline is unpredictable. To them, domestic tourism to pave the road to recovery.
Promoting tourism in the time of coronavirus may seem like a no-win now, and running a campaign at this time may seem unconventional. However, their Homesick for Malaysia aims to inspire people to visit Malaysia at a later date. In their recent video, they remind everyone to stay home, and return to Malaysia when better days come. For LokaLocal Content and Marketing Lead Rachael Lum, it is a matter of raising awareness for local tourism.
“Although people are unable to travel now, we would use this time to raise awareness for Malaysia by sharing stories about the places, culture and people. Travellers will come back eventually,” she said.
LokaLocal is also using this time to prepare for virtual reality tourism. Their upcoming features would offer hotels, museums, travel agents and airlines a try-before-you-buy experience capability, which in turn gives travellers a taste for travel before they book their holidays.
“Despite the challenges, the team is adapting what they know best to weather the storm. Now is an apt time for us to get creative to survive, and take the leap,” Chin said.