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Texas State University

Service Marketing During The Time of COVID-19

picture of a plate of food

Service marketing expert and assistant professor of marketing Dr. Linda Alkire, says the COVID-19 pandemic has left many service industries such as hospitality and tourism struggling while other services like our healthcare sector are completely overworked and overused. 

As a service scholar, Dr. Alkire is in awe of the current state of the service industry. With the hospitality and tourism industry down 17% from the previous year according to Statista, many Americans have been left jobless and without a paycheck. In a recent survey by Pew Research, one-in-four U.S. workers, roughly 38.1 million Americans, are employed in the service industry and were most likely to feel an immediate impact from the COVID-19 outbreak. 

Like any other industry, the service marketing field has established strategies for forecasting demand and fluctuations, however, these strategies couldn’t have predicted such an unexpected drop in demand. Dr. Alkire says, “the current disruptions in our service economy will have long-lasting effects on individuals, businesses, communities, and nations.”

Since mid-March, we have seen businesses pivot their business model as a way to find new revenue streams. Alkire notes that businesses have had to completely reinvent themselves, “restaurants are selling groceries, chefs are offering virtual cooking classes, recently unemployed are joining the gig economy, etc. We are witnessing the emergence of service innovations mainly at the individual and community levels. We are also seeing high levels of creativity and entrepreneurship."

She goes on to say that since the closing down of non-essential businesses, she’s seen individuals become "increasingly sophisticated and incorporate flexible use of technology, quick adoption, and an expansion of online services, less dependence on others, more decentralization, less polarization, decrease in individualism and a heightened sense of social responsibility and patriotism."

Although many services are struggling or have completely stopped operating, others are trying to wrap their heads around increasing safety measures to protect front-line employees, supply chain disruptions, maintaining daily operations, plummeting customer demand, regulatory uncertainty, lack of cash flow, among many other issues. 

During such an unprecedented time, Dr. Alkire said there is little to be certain of, however, she is certain of one thing, "this pandemic will change the world permanently. A crisis of this scale will reorder society and businesses in dramatic ways, for better or worse, but it is up to us to determine how we want to prepare for our new reality!"