We, and by that I mean the travel industry took a shot to the gut with the COVID-19 pandemic and coming out of it is going to be rough–let’s not kid one another. But we are going to come out of it and it will be different to be sure. Here is some food for thought!
If you have employees, they may be afraid to come back to work. The general public will be cautious to meet. You will need to convince everyone that you have taken the proper steps (CDC, County, State recommendations) for re-opening safely. But beyond that, listen to your employees or customers for any concerns they may have. For your business to succeed, you need to have agents and clients comfortable doing business with you—only now we have added a safety element.
Interacting with clients has all changed. Maybe not on the phone or via email, but in person, you need to be prepared to operate from a socially distant place, in a mask, with gloves. Your workspace—desk in an office or table in a coffee shop will need to be sanitized. The days of a desk piled high with brochures and paperwork are probably gone. And make sure you have a plan in place should you, and employee, or a client test positive for Coronavirus. Getting contact information for all face to face interactions should be mandatory.
Your message needs to be clear about protecting your clients and employees.
Bring your clients up
I have ventured out to a number of restaurants as they begin to re-open and what I have noticed is that the customer service is off the charts. The management, the servers, the bussers, and even the dishwashers are all genuinely happy to see me and make it known.
We are in a happy business to begin with; but as our clients are seeking a return to “normal” it is incumbent on us to make sure they are happy, referring and returning. You may need to rethink your pitch and the way specific words are phrased. It may be something as subtle as switching from discussing crime in a destination to focusing on the safety precautions in place at the hotel.
It is more important now to keep in mind that we are a happy business and now must go to great lengths to make sure that message conveys.
Learn from the big guys
The big names in the travel industry have some advantage—typically funding, but the field may be a bit more level than you realize and it would behoove us to learn from the big guys.
You don’t have to be a Carnival to have a website or an email marketing program. You don’t have to be a Sandals or Beaches to have well-trained agents that can knock the socks off of your clients.
Study what the big guys are doing to recover and replicate it in a smaller fashion.
Despite my best guesses a few weeks ago, several surveys are indicating that people are ready and willing to travel again with the new rules, restrictions and regulations.
Initially it will be slow. Business will trickle back. At first it will be those clients that need to travel. Then the dreamers will be back. They see travel morphing from a luxury to a need. They will be comfortable eating in a local restaurant and realize there is a way forward and will begin to travel. And finally, the clients from Missouri*—the “show mes”. They will be wanting to travel but delay in pulling that trigger until it has been proven to be safe.
And that’s all fine. We all move at our own speeds and the secret is to be there for them, communicate with them right now, and welcome them back with open arms and a big smile…and gloves, a mask, and a bottle of Lysol.
* Sorry Missourians …needed to pick on you to illustrate a point! No malice intended!