As a growing number of reports continue to predict economic recession in the midst of the COVID-19 Coronavirus Pandemic, it’s not surprising to hear that the tourism industry is bracing itself for a decline in bookings and increase in cancellations.
In Part 1 of this series we dive into the history of tourism and look into how the travel industry has responded and importantly bounced back from other significant events including the Global Financial Crisis, SARs, influenza pandemics and war.
In this blog, we take the learnings built up over the past century to provide you with actionable insights into how you can better prepare your travel business for economic adversity.
Check in with Suppliers and maintain close business relationships
Tourism is often one of the first industries to feel the impacts of economic adversity, so chances are, if you are experiencing cancellations or a drop in inquiries, your suppliers are also feeling the effects.
Use this time to check in with your suppliers, get to know them better and strengthen your business relationships. Research shows that communities and business relationships are more resilient and able to bounce back from crisis when an effort to stimulate connectedness is undertaken.
Take advantage of the quiet period
Tour operators are notoriously busy, and anything that doesn’t include sending proposals and securing bookings often falls by the wayside. Take this opportunity to give your travel website a health check, ensure your website security is up to date, work on your SEO, focus on your social media presence, and take time to review your digital marketing strategy. Satisfy your itch to build itineraries and work with your team to craft example itineraries that you can showcase on your website and in other marketing materials.
If you’re a business owner, now is also a fantastic time to get up to speed on administrative tasks. Review costs, catch up on latest industry benchmarking statistics and ensure you are GDPR compliant. An unexpected quiet period is also an opportunity to introduce time saving tour operator software into your business.
Get ready for lift off
In our previous blog we discussed the resilience of the travel industry, outlining the ways that it had bounced back from similar events in the past. While this is a difficult time for the entire industry, it is important that business owners remember that it will pass and normality will return.
Taking measures to ensure that your business is prepared for an increase in bookings once the crisis has passed will serve you exceptionally well in the future. Don’t forget your existing customers and the loyalty you have spent time and effort building. Keep communicating and focussing your marketing efforts on them – looking forward to a stunning tailor-made tour is a fantastic way to keep positive about the current crisis.
Manage cancellations and review your cancellations policy
As travel restrictions and warnings continue to increase, it is probable that a number of your customers may be wanting to cancel or postpone their trips. Ensure that your cancellation and deferment policies are up to date, your employees are aware of them and they can be found easily on your website. This will save you a significant amount of time, not to mention increase the likelihood that your customers will remember their positive experience and re-book in the future.
Remember, you aren’t on your own
Now is the perfect time to appreciate the collaborative and supportive nature of the travel industry. Look towards your local travel associations, regulating body or government for resources, support and funding. Sticking together and supporting one another is important to ensure that the industry comes out the other side, more dynamic, resilient and successful than before.
Choose tools that support you
Tourism is unpredictable; whether it’s seasonality, economic recession or a health epidemic, there are always going to be times when your business needs support. Adopting products and services that have been designed with the peaks and troughs of tourism in mind will allow you to rest assured that your fluctuating cashflow won’t be further hindered by expensive or unexpected costs.
Whether it’s a platform like Tourwriter, which has clearly defined monthly or annual costs, or an online itinerary builder like Minim that has a success driven pricing model designed to ebb and flow with your business; there’s something to suit.
Keep doing what you do best
It’s more important than ever to keep providing an exceptional travel offering. Traveller numbers have already started to decrease, and it’s likely that people are not going to be racing to book holidays until there is a sense that the pandemic is abating. However, there are still destinations that are relatively unaffected, and those who will want to be planning their future holidays for so that they have something to look forward to.
Research shows that consumer confidence often surges following a crisis such as war or a pandemic. With reports that a vaccination for COVID-19 is expected to be available in 12 months, there is an end in sight and after such time it is reasonable to expect tourism numbers to bounce back and possibly even surge.
Producing exceptional proposals, top notch customer service and going above and beyond to build strong customer relationships are all great ways to ensure that your business is able to recover faster.
Article Credit: https://www.tourwriter.com