Global Crisis comes normally when we least expect it. Or when the majority of people haven't been able to prepare sufficiently for it. In the travel industry, we probably feel the effects of a crisis more than most. For that reason, the first phase of a crisis (downtime) is a hectic period as you scramble to try to save your staff, your clients and the future of your business. But, after you have calmed the initial storm, what is the best plan a travel advisor can follow? How can you be stronger and more efficient after the crisis?
The three main questions a travel advisor should ask themself when safeguarding their business for the future:
What could travel advisors have done to be better prepared for this crisis?
Understanding the recent past events has always been crucial to improving the way we do our job. These are the most important learnings every travel agent should have to face the future:
- Set up a plan of action when you see a potential crisis on the horizon and before it arrives. Before your clients start to experience significant travel delays and they start with full out cancellations, make sure that there is a crisis plan and an individual who oversees it.
- Protection of your staff, ensure liquidity to weather the storm. Your employees are your number one resource, so try to be always transparent and fair and make a long-term plan for all of them, so they will remain loyal when a crisis shows up. Your staffing costs will be at the top of your expenses, before rent or marketing. This is the way you can not only survive but also keep a cohesive and productive team.
- Work with a global product portfolio that has clear terms & conditions. Even if you work in a very specific travel specialization, it’s key to work with a product portfolio that offers a wide range of hotels, activities and other ancillary services. But, also, make sure you have flexible conditions to offer these products, so your services fit every client and every situation.
- A new era for insurances. Now more than ever, going on vacation without having travel insurance to cover medical expenses is a major risk for any client. For travel advisors, it’s essential to have a range of different insurance providers to offer tailored insurance that ensures the safety of your customers and gives you the chance to earn extra revenue.
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What can travel advisors improve to make their business stronger?
The Travel industry is changing every week, when was the last time you had a rethink of your strategy? Every crisis is an excellent opportunity to work on these three points to be sure that, when we come out the other side, your business will be ready to make the most of all the opportunities available:
- Digital branding and tools. Do you have an efficient page to showcase your services and product? If the answer is no, it’s high time to improve your digital storefront, whether that’s a website, a Facebook Page or both. Update your images and information, use real reviews from happy customers, integrate other social networks and make sure there is a link to your newsletter.
- Re-think your Marketing Plan. Before removing all your ads, review all your marketing channels. Stop the low-performing ones and think on which of the well-performing can still bring you sales. Your historical data is key: what happened in the last crisis?
- Scalability. The inherent human desire to travel is never going to die. So in a few weeks, you’ll need to face a demand that will come thick and fast. You need to be prepared for that, so make sure you have the team and the technology.
Which new opportunities should travel advisors focus on?
Within any crisis, there are seeds of opportunity. The coronavirus crisis may lead a new way of thinking for travel advisors, so look out for the latest news and trends paying attention especially to these three points:
- Home-based jobs are the future. After a prolonged period where customers are forced into limited human interaction, there could be an impact in the industry. Travel advisors who embrace the digital age and are comfortable with online and face-to-face will be the most successful ones.
- Guidance and safety to avoid troubles due to unpredictable events. The travel advisor role becomes more critical than ever for the simple reason that consumers are now more wary of traveling independently and prefer the security of an agent. It’s time to be more advisor and less agent!
- Crisis brings new trends and changes in top destinations. The Covid-19 crisis closed borders and canceled international flights, so suddenly, customers were only able to think on domestic trips. #Staycation is a new trend for travelers, meaning the desire to do local activities and explore their own country. During the crisis, consumers are also looking to escape the city.
And it’s also important to monitor when countries start to be open up and safe again, so travel advisors can offer packages cheaper than ever for customers.
Many opportunities present themselves during a crisis, although, at first, it can be challenging to spot them. It’s the moment to take a short break, analyze what you need to improve to be better prepared for this outbreak, adapt your business model to offer the most suitable services for current customers, and take advantage of the latest trends and ways of business.