FORTUNATELY, with the easing of restrictions and alert level system by the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases, more and more Filipinos are basking in the newly-reacquainted freedom of going out. As human beings, we are innately social creatures and the need to be with fellow human beings of course is always a necessary activity to be had every so often.

Malls are bustling with everyday noise, Christmas songs fill the air and people give life to what used to be empty structures suffering from many lockdown scenarios. In fact, more on more activities are slowly getting to the face-to-face mode as the country eases its way to economic recovery. Of course, barring any surge and with strict observance to health protocols and social distancing.

One of the things that went back to the normal arrangements was the Department of Trade and Industry — Cordillera Administrative Region's Impakabsat 2021. This is the annual regional trade fair organized by DTI Cordillera Administrative Region and highlights — as their slogan says #OnlyTheBestFromTheCordilleras. On its 30th year, Impakabsat connotes the six provinces comprising the Cordillera region (Ifugao, Mountain Province, Abra, Kalinga, Apayao, Baguio and Benguet — Impakab and Kabsat, which means brother or sister) and while promotion is done online through the help of social media, the 10-day affair was held on the physical grounds of Festival Mall Alabang. This was in contrast to last year's regional trade fair which was held online or virtually.

What's interesting to note is that with the full digital promotion for the event, many messages on where to buy online have been sent by interested buyers, and arguably an opportunity to be looked into more carefully. In fact, this is the roadmap that trade agencies are looking at — to enable an e-commerce capability to gain better and wider reach for customers interested in unique Cordilleran products or other regional and unique products for that matter. To a grander and macro level, the agency's one town one product initiative can also take advantage of digital technologies available to be able to promote every town's unique products to the very curious Filipinos living in the city, most especially. This will also encourage the many Filipinos overseas that truly miss products that are only still available here. The use of e-commerce and leveraging its capabilities will also give rise to the many ancillary opportunities that will go with it such as consolidation/logistics support and many others.

One business set up we are seeing these days is the interest to look into hybrid arrangement. This is one that covers both physical and virtual and could be something that works well with customers who prefer to be presented with options. Some may not be as ready to go out and deal with the crowds and some may prefer ordering online at the comfort of their homes or watching via online streaming if the activity is an event. Nonetheless, this approach would work well for organizations who would like to cover both segments and who are looking to build capabilities in this space.

Of course, the traditional face-to-face set up is already resuming. While we all go back to what we know as normal, it may still not be 100-percent the same especially for very crowded events like concerts and even rallies. New technologies may cover for this later on. In the meantime, organizations are looking into investing in both traditional and virtual to cover for the consumer preferences in the process.

Kay Calpo Lugtu is the chief operating officer of Hungry Workhorse, a digital and culture transformation firm. Her advocacies include food innovation, nation-building and sustainability. The author may be reached at [email protected]