By the time this publishes, most (if not all) of the United States will be under emergency orders to stay at home for all but essential trips. I know I am. There is no sugar coating this, we have a huge problem on our hands and we all must work together to come out on the other side—whenever that may be. The headlines in the travel business are alarming…
- Caribbean hotel occupancy rates at 10% . There are 78,000 hotel rooms in the Caribbean. Only 7,800 are currently being used.
- Worldwide airline capacity down 77%, According to the FAA, there are 2.8 million passengers per day in the United States. 77% of that leaves 644,000 passengers.
- American Airlines to resume Rome flights at the end of October. End of October! That is nearly seven months away!
Let those numbers sink in for a bit. Travel, as we knew it, is not going to approach anything close to normal in the near future. There is financial assistance for the airlines and us agents as well; but questions remain, “is it enough?” and “will it last?” You and your accountant will likely have to answer those questions. But what do you do in the interim?
Keep in touch and keep visible to both your clients and the public at large.
If there is a bright side here it is with the media. They are “all in” on COVID-19 and every one of them is looking for new and different angles. Take advantage of that and reach out. When you reach out, I also suggest you go big or go home. Do not limit your pitch to the local weekly newspaper. Reach out to radio, regional and national television. Come up with an angle and send it. Trust me, most will nibble if not bite! What are you seeing in your market? What have the travel supplies told you? What is the tenor of your clients? What are going to be some destinations to watch when this is over? Tips for getting a refund on booked travel? Crystal balling for the future? The topics are endless. Bonus: when it is all said and done, all of those media reporters will now have a trusted source to come to for all of their travel stories.
Which brings me to clients. Yes, you need to send out newsletters. Yes, you need to update your website. Yes, you probably should send out mailed holiday cards. But you know all that. But what about a video conference. By now you should know about Zoom, Google Hangouts and Cisco’s Webex. All of them are free (or have a free option)—get one and get to know how to work it. During this pandemic, this will likely be your prime form of contact with any media, but it should be used for your clients as well. Was a group thwarted by Coronavirus? Why not host a chat to commiserate with those that were booked? An update on the travel industry? A chat with your BDMs about destinations? Host a virtual travel night? A travel nightmare night? A best vacation ever night? Again, the possibilities are endless.
We are in for a long, tough fight to get back in the game and we need to stick together. But rest assured, it will happen. Do you have a suggestion or a tip? Please leave a comment.
Other than that…stay healthy…keep your distance…wash your hands…and stop touching your face!