How to Cope with the Crisis in the Travel Industry
This is a guest article by tech writer Ray Slater Berry
There’s no doubt the crisis is hitting the travel industry hard. In fact, global revenue for the travel and tourism industry is down 34.7 percent less than last year. With so many businesses struggling, pivoting, or having to make tough decisions, the next step you take now can determine how you come out of this crisis.
This article is designed to give your business support and insight into how you can be adjusting your business strategy in this crucial time. Since every business operates differently, see how you can adapt your strategy to best suit your product.
7 actions your travel company can take in the crisis
Look after home
With the hashtag #stayhome clocking over 29 million posts on Instagram alone, there’s no doubt that people around the world are listening to and sharing the message of how important it is to stay at home. Yet, this action doesn’t have to stop at consumers. Businesses need to follow this global hashtag trend; not only staying at home but looking after the home.
Now is the time to look after your staff. These are unprecedented times and many people are struggling with family, friends, and their own anxiety. See how your business can support your workforce. Try to support your team’s physical and mental well-being in their homes.
Bring digital support wherever you can. The great news is, there are so many businesses, freelancers, and even SaaS platforms that are offering their services for free or at reduced rates during this time. Look out for them and they’ll look out for your staff. It’s crucial you show your workforce that you care right now.
Strip things back to basics
Take the time to reassess why your company launched in the travel sector in the first place. This downtime can be a chance for you to realign your company or team with your mission and vision, and identify ways you can still work towards that.
It’s in times of crisis that we need the most guidance and support, not only for a brand but for the brand’s people to stay motivated. Bringing an emphasis back to your roots and reason for the brand being it can remind people why they joined the company in the first place and bring a new lease on life to their work.
This can be a great time to strip things back with your external communications as well. Use a channel manager tool to get a clear overview of your online channels and reach. Write to every channel you have. Remind your customers about what they love about travel – and your brand in particular.
Focus on your brand storytelling for your team, your customers and for other businesses to remind them why you are here and in the battle.
Pivot your strategy
Source: Visit Barcelona
This brings us to our next step. If you’re a startup, then now may be the time to consider pivoting your business strategy. Focus on your team’s agility and that classic startup juice that fuels businesses in their early years.
This crisis is a change in our climate. It’s a change in how we think, interact, travel, and more. Not only is this crisis affecting us now, but it will undoubtedly change the course of how we operate in the future. Take this into consideration and look at the opportunities that have arisen because of the crisis. How can your business pivot to adapt?
This does not only apply to new businesses though. Mature businesses can consider a change too. They don’t necessarily need to pivot their business model, but this is potentially a time for a new product and certainly looking after your current ones.
Make sure you stay on top of your automated process. Check your content posting calendar, vacation rental manager, everything you have, and make sure there’s nothing scheduled to go out that could be harmful to business sentiment. Stay agile, responsible, and innovate.
Comehome Business Pivot
We’re seeing new trends in travel emerge already as brands begin to play with new technologies. Virtual tours of museums, Instagram accounts changing their strategies, AR and VR users are all accommodating travel for “hyper domestic tourism.”
Look for a way to give someone a taste of what you offer when you can’t deliver the whole meal. Just because times are tough doesn’t mean you can’t still be successful.
Reach out to your customers
Although customers are being bombarded with communications from many brands at the moment, they still want to hear from you.
Let’s remember that people have signed up for your newsletter, followed your brand on social media, and downloaded your app because they like your brand and what you stand for. Don’t be put off by the amount of content that brands are producing at the moment. It is necessary and it is well received.
Your community wants to hear from you, in fact now more than ever they need to. Deliver insightful information, address the situation, don’t skirt around it, and let your followers know how you’re coping. Right now, transparency is key.
With so many businesses having no choice but to work from home, we’re getting a look at the people behind the brand and the brands stripped of its bells and whistles. Deliver content that’s intimate, unique, and valuable to your followers. Remind them why they came to you in the first place.
Prepare for business as usual
People will go to concerts again, restaurants will be full again, and we will enjoy travel once more. Your revenue growth rate will have the opportunity to increase again. Keep this all in mind. This down period will not last forever and when it’s over it’s going to peak like never before. Make sure you’re ready for it.
Look at those larger business processes that you’ve never had the time to conquer before and now have the luxury of taking on.
- Essential processes
- Product roadmaps
- Marketing communications
- Team structure
- Content libraries & calendars
- New tool implementation
The list goes on. Make sure that when the crisis is over you can press play.
Acknowledge the “Travel Shame” trend
Travel shame is something that’s fast emerging. In many places, only essential travel is being tolerated. Those businesses and social media accounts that are refusing to change their posting strategy are being abandoned or called out for their actions.
Tread carefully, this is a time that customers are really able to judge a brand’s integrity. For those brands that aren’t changing, they’re feeling not only the loss of fans but a negative sentiment building around them too.
Don’t let your brand do the same for fear of changing track. It’s up to industry leaders to lead by example. Innovate and don’t tolerate.
Maybe this means you won’t be hitting your quarterly goals, maybe your yearly KPIs won’t show through. But, all things considered, are these the right goals you should be chasing right now anyway? Host those larger conversations, change your strategies where they need to be changed and avoid being travel shamed.
It’s okay to take a step back
Lastly, it’s okay to not be doing something all the time. You don’t need to be proactive every minute of the day or come out of this better than when you went into it. If pressures are too much, then admit that.
Look after the health of your business and ease off of the gas for a while. Take a step back, appreciate where you are now and look after your people.
Yes, these are times we have not struggled through before, but the travel industry is no stranger to crisis. Travel businesses across the globe have coped with crises before. They have become more resilient because of it and some fantastic innovation has emerged along the way as well.
The travel sector will get through this crisis but let’s close out with the things we need to remember along the way:
- Look after your staff – Just because they’re not talking about the crisis doesn’t mean they’re not feeling it.
- Remind your team and customers why you’re here – Stay true to your mission and vision.
- Pivot and innovate – Now is the time to be agile and work on our toes.
- Look after your people – Your customers need to know what you’re doing at this time to support them. Be transparent with your communication.
- Get prepared – When this crisis is over, people will crave normality. Be prepared for the demand.
- Avoid travel shame – Adapt your day-to-day strategy or be called out for it.
- Don’t leave your finger on go – It’s okay to take a step back.
Ray Slater Berry is a content strategist at Outreach Humans. He has been working in social media and content marketing for eight years. He specializes in the tech, innovation and travel sectors. He has also recently published his first work of fiction, Golden Boy.
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