A month ago, I had a feeling that “this corona thing” might be a problem for the travel industry. As the weeks went on, and Princess was taking it on the chin with a cruise ship stuck in Japan, I knew it was going to get worse. But a month ago, never did I imagine we’d be here where we are today. I am speechless. But even so, it is time for some straight talk.
Weathering this storm
Travel behemoths will weather this storm and come pout battered and bruised. We all know who they are. But most of us (and many of our suppliers) are not travel behemoths, and the fact is that many of us will not be in business this time next year.
I am not suggesting everyone throw in the towel by any means, just stating what I believe to be a fact. COVID-19 will do to a lot of agencies what commission cuts, wars, and Bird flus failed to do. Be prepared for that. After some reflection, today might be the perfect day to become a statistic in the list of COVID casualties.
How do you not become a statistic? You need to be honest with yourself. Are you profitable? Truly profitable? Profitable enough to provide a comfortable income for you and your family? Do you have enough financial resources to handle this for a year to 18 months? If so, read on.
Please plan for an extended period of disinterest in traveling. The interest in travel with be there—the desire to actually do it will not. Keep your clients informed. Give them real information on the disease from reliable sources (CDC, State Department, State Health Departments, etc.). The key is to make sure that they are not forgetting about you during this time. Plant the seed of travel and water it liberally for when the demand returns. Perhaps now is a good time to invest time in learning how to create videos and let your clients travel with you online. Maybe consider developing a podcast—it’s cheaper and easier than you think and it is a growing medium.
Grow yourself. Take advantage of the down time to hop on the webinars that we never seem to have time for anymore. Here’s a good one right here to get your started—Grounded! What’s Next? Bone up of your destination specialties by taking online courses to become a specialist. Check out all of the new offerings from the cruise lines and suppliers—any by offerings I am thinking properties, amenities, services, etc . Grow yourself professionally so you will stand out when the time comes!
Breathe. Get outside. Chances are you live in a place where schools are canceled for a period. This may be longer than anyone realizes so be sure to get fresh air if you can. Hug your kids and loved ones and stay six feet away from the others! Plan a game night or two. Work with them on their now online education.
Stand together with your local businesses. I know that some areas are shutting down those businesses and you may be one as well. Get together with other businesses (virtually of course) and find ways to support one another and to generate support in general. Here in Annapolis, most of the restaurants saw a huge drop in business—they immediately moved to rearranging the furniture to give patrons the space needed. They (of course) upped the sanitation game and are heavily promoting curbside pick-up—order online and pick it up right there. A movement is afoot here for those that cannot or do not want to venture out right now to buy gift cards from local businesses now if they are able and then claim them when this is over.
Some of the numbers surrounding COVID-19 are staggering. The latest number I heard is that somewhere between 50% and 70% of the population will contract it. Most will be relatively minor cases, but the threat is there. Be safe. Be informed.
Oh, and wash your hands!