“…to prepare to stay in a place or position for a long time, usually in order to achieve something … (Cambridge Academic Content Dictionary © Cambridge University Press)
Another fine mess we’ve found ourselves in. But we are not without power and a course of action. We have weathered these storms in the past. The first responsibility we have to our families, companies and employees, is to preserve our house. While the most immediate impulse, correctly so, will be to cut expenses, it is important to do so rationally and with an eye to the future. Done correctly, cutting expenses has the same effect as trimming your sails in a strong wind – you gain more control over your boat. Done incorrectly, however, you lose the ability to navigate, to steer beyond the storm.
Cutting expenses cannot be done in isolation. Your marketing mix must also adapt to the new circumstances.
An important thought as you plan your way forward: Consider the psychological nature of the current Coronavirus situation and the central role travel has played in it. We have to empathize with the population and our clients. Do not underestimate the importance of ongoing communication with your client base and the need to continue to be visible in a steady, calm manner with correct messaging.
Here is a quick action plan to consider.
- Go through your expenses and get rid of “leaks”- subscriptions you are not reading, software you are not using, anything you don’t recognize. Cull out luxuries in excess of what you need to operate efficiently and smartly. Example: your basic cable service and internet are important to your business. HBO and STARZ, not so much. Enough said.
- Look at your marketing. Do NOT cut back on effective marketing or your visibility. You must remain visible. This is the time to blog, to send out newsletters, to stay in front of clients. During tough times, too many travel companies quit marketing and go silent. Maintain your visibility to take advantage of pent-up demand when the tide turns, and it will turn, it always does.
- Focus on existing clients – they are the least expensive clients to reach.
- Focus on niches for the same reason. This is not the time to shotgun market, so get strategic about how you spend your marketing dollars and time.
- Use your most efficient and effective communication channels – your blog, your newsletters and social media, and those channels that have worked for you in the past.
- Look at your marketing messaging. Continue to think about and develop your communication skills. Practice your writing, develop your responses, think through your manner and way of being with clients. Make your messaging to clients helpful and instructive. We are entering into a very specific customer service phase of our business, and sales will give way for a while to smart marketing. Right now, empathize with your clients. Don’t over-sell. Remain authentic and retain your concern for clients. Don’t try to tell clients they should ignore sound advice regarding protecting their health and well-being. Calmly provide good advice. Be a stable influence. When this all passes, and it will pass, clients will remember your empathy and your voice.
- Take care of yourself. Take some walks, play with your animals, spend time with family. Stay in touch with friends. Remember what is really important. We are all going to look at things a little differently on the other side of all of this, but not one of us is an island.
Hang in there friends, hunker down. And wash your hands.
Your friend in travel,
PS: TRO, Voyager and Travmarket will be developing messaging you can use with your clientele.