During the pandemic, companies were faced with changing circumstances, which for many became a severe test requiring them to adapt. The new conditions in turn created a need for changes in business development processes for business promoters working in various ways to develop and strengthen enterprises. There are lessons to be learned from the various phases of the pandemic that can inform future decisions. These lessons were presented and discussed in connection with an exchange of experiences where Anna Wikholm Kjellberg and Annakarin Nyberg, who run the Future Sustainable Visitor Industry project, met with business developers from Piteå and Boden, among other places. Representatives from Företagarna and students from a vocational training programme in the hospitality industry who are currently on work experience also took part.
The business development programme Future Retail Lab has been implemented during three programme rounds at the incubator eXpression Umeå. The first programme round started in 2019 and ended before the pandemic took hold of the world. However, the second and third rounds of the programme were affected by the pandemic and as a result the 32 companies that participated in these rounds of the programme had to quickly adjust. This has involved everything from changing and refining existing business models to finding new markets and ways to work communicatively.
In exchanges of experience of this kind, one sometimes wonders whether companies really have the energy to develop their business right now, in the aftermath of a pandemic and a currently troubled world with war and rising inflation," says Annakarin Nyberg, project manager for the Sustainable Hospitality Industry of the Future.
However, the resilience of the companies has proven to be high and many of them have quickly adapted and developed new business models and streamlined their communications to reach new markets," continues Annakarin.
The Future Retail Lab is now complete and a total of 44 companies have participated in the programme during the period 2019 - 2022. The programme has served as a test platform for the Future Sustainable Hospitality project and shows great potential for development for companies in the retail and hospitality sector despite the challenges posed by the pandemic.
It has been exciting to follow the companies on their development journeys and we are happy to be able to share the experience and knowledge gained during this period, says Anna Wikholm Kjellberg, business coach at eXpression Umeå.