Learnings from the Chinese travel market

As discussed in our crisis management ebook, every crisis can be split into 5 main phases, and the timing of each can vary based on many factors. Being the first to encounter COVID-19, China is currently in a more advanced  phase of the crisis, like only a few other countries. Looking at how the Coronavirus outbreak has evolved and analyzing the impact it has had on  the travel industry, can be valuable food for thought for every travel advisor all over the world.

5 phases of each crisis

Successful actions helping travel advisors to survive

Travel businesses are reacting in many different ways according to their size, target audience, and other variables. Travel advisors, who are the front line  of the travel industry, have been strongly impacted by this crisis, and while the impact of COVID-19 has been different in each nation, looking at those who are one step ahead can be helpful to avoid making the same mistakes, and learn from what has worked for them. 
These have been some of the most impactful actions taken in the Chinese market to endure the crisis:

Flexibility on booking cancellations and refunds

Don’t be too reluctant to refund your customers. The most important thing is keeping them satisfied. Providing refunds to customers who have already booked a vacation can be difficult for every travel advisor’s finances, but unsatisfied customers can be even more damaging in the long run, as it may compromise not just future earnings, but also your reputation.

flexible cancellation

Offer vouchers with upgrades

Refunds are not the only possibility for travel advisors offering an alternative solution to their customers. One of the best options for many travel professionals in these times has been to offer a voucher for future purchases, providing upgraded services as an incentive for this choice. For instance, if a customer has purchased an international trip package, a good option for a travel advisor to keep the booking would be to offer a domestic travel package of higher value including activities and additional products.

Pre-sale travels with flexible change & cancellation policies

One of the biggest resources helping travel advisors in China to survive the crisis is pre-sales. Offering future travel solutions, with flexible options, at a discount rate, has helped many travel agencies in getting some cash flow relief, very helpful during the lockdown situation of this crisis.

customer consulting a travel brochure

Optimize for on-line purchase

With the restrictive measures in place and most of your potential customers being forced to stay at home, it’s important to find alternative ways to reach out to them as well as new ways for them to reach you. While in China WeChat has become one of the biggest all-around online platforms, in other countries, there are other interesting opportunities to advertise and sell your products on social media or search engines.

Establish partnerships with big networks

This crisis is affecting the travel industry like few others before. While structured organizations are much more likely to endure these times, the situation for many independent professionals can be different, and a crisis can be tough to overcome. It is proven that the likelihood to survive difficulties when you have strong partnerships in place is much higher! With the right travel partner, you can have access to a wider range of technology, travel offers and ancillary activities, that will provide you with the strength to navigate difficulties.

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Upcoming trends for the recovery phase

While each and every country is approaching a different phase of the COVID-19 outbreak, these are the biggest trends related to the travel industry that our team is currently seeing on the rise in the Chinese market:

  • Increased need for security and safety

One of the biggest effects of the Coronavirus on the travel industry is that travelers are now demanding free cancellation rates and are much more likely to purchase insurance services along with their bookings.

  • Travelers opting for big hotel chains over Airbnb and low star hotels

The perception of higher safety standards provided by big hotel brands and chains is playing a crucial factor in this.

  • Domestic travel will recover first

While travel bans are still in place for international routes, traveling between and within regions is now allowed in China. With the uncertainty about the duration of this pandemic, and about the day in which borders will be open again, national travels should be a priority for every travel advisor.

  • Business travelers are the first segment to recover

The majority of the travel restrictions will have the biggest impact on leisure travel. Business travel, on the other hand, can still be a profitable niche for travel advisors,  with business travelers being the first ones to need to purchase travel products again.

While every customer base and every market is defined by different needs, there are many common characteristics that are worth being considered, especially when it comes to the impact of a crisis such as the one we are currently experiencing.

Our global perspective allows us to analyze and gather information from various sources, and use differences as an asset!

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CRISIS MANAGEMENT FOR TRAVEL ADVISORS
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Download our guide to find out:

  • The five stages of every crisis
  • Why customer satisfaction still needs to be your #1 priority
  • How to adjust your marketing messages 
  • What to do when the crisis is over 
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