Slowly it is happening. We’ve been hiding in the basement, terrified of COVID-19 for more than 13 weeks. Revenue (and income) has dried up. Many of us are still fighting to get that first unemployment check and that $1200 stimulus (if you were lucky enough to get it) has long dried up. But now, we are slowly opening that basement door and peeking out to see if it is safe. Now what?
Hotels and resorts are beginning to open. Planes are beginning to see more passengers. I even saw an actual line at the TSA check point the other day. Cruise ships are developing their plans to begin to sail. And undoubtedly, your clients are getting the message. How is the best way to handle this?
I’ve said it before and it bears repeating—converse! Your clients are both anxious to travel and anxious to travel.
In days gone by, amenities, attractions, and destinations were some major considerations that enticed a client to travel. They will be taking a back seat as we progress beyond COVID-19. They are looking for safety, sanitation, low-risk destinations, and a bit of isolation. No one is coming out of this without looking over their shoulders for a resurgence of Coronavirus.
In days gone by, you could reasonable expect what might be covered by travel insurance or what the cancellation policy might involve. As we progress beyond COVID-19 all of that will change.
While bookings are slow, touch base with your suppliers and learn how to use Zoom (or Google Meet or Microsoft Teams or Webex or any other video-conferencing program) and enlist the help of the suppliers. Record calls with them to find out the answers to the questions your clients are asking.
- What is this resort doing for sanitation?
- How is this airline handling social distancing?
- What do I need to do differently when checking into an airport?
- What happens if there is a resurgence of COVID-19 in my destination?
- What happens if I cancel the trip?
- What is the quality of medical care in my destination?
- What non-crowded attractions do you suggest?
The list will go on and on. Take some time and record a video chat with your suppliers and experts—reach out to the TSA or the local health departments. Everyone has a vested interest in making sure that everyone travels safely. I bet your suppliers even have videos of the work being done in specific destinations that they can share in the call.
Take these videos and get creative:
- Create a series
- Post one a week to your social media channels
- Use them in your emails
- Create a separate section on your website
The travel industry will struggle for a while as we recover; and the struggle will be tough. We are in a unique position to set ourselves apart from the online agencies and to a large degree the suppliers taking direct bookings. Online agencies are unable to offer personal recommendations and suppliers are focused on one product only. It is imperative to keep communications open to your clients. Let them know you are there for them to help them return to a life of healthy and COVID-free travel. It will pay dividends in the end!