We’ve all heard the adage about taking three steps forward and one step back. It’s a struggle, but you are still making forward progress! But in the travel industry, coming out of COVID, I sometimes wonder.
Earlier this week, the headlines screamed Carnival’s entire fleet is back in service. Only to be followed up with, “I did not feel safe, Carnival’s cruise overwhelmed with COVID”
I opened up my email yesterday, and the headline that greeted me was “Three Americans Found Dead at Sandals Resort in Unknown Health Emergency.”
Toss in a travel agent con-man story that scammed travelers out of nearly a million dollars, and…why not throw in a “Cybercriminals Targeting the Travel Industry” to boot.
Well, we have our work cut out for us—on many fronts!
While most of the issues are out of our hands, we cannot ignore them. Our clients and prospects are watching and are rightfully concerned. What do we tell them about three people dying at arguably the number one resort chain in the Caribbean? How do we assuage concerns about a fully vaccinated and tested ship with COVID? What do we do to assure them that we are not going to rip them off?
A huge buzzword of late in politics is apropos here—transparency!
We simply can’t downplay facts. Nor can we downplay concerns or perceptions. We need to address them head-on.
I likely would put the Sandals resort on a stop-sell for my clients until we know what happened—food, carbon monoxide, drugs, or some weird and tragic medical coincidence. Cruising is a bit more complicated as we have not heard of large outbreaks across the industry; we need to be convinced that Carnival is doing all they can to protect their passengers and make sure they are implementing the same procedures across all brands. As to scammers, hopefully, our reputations precede us, and it is not an issue; but be sure to show clients that you are forwarding payment on their behalf to the supplier. If not, explain why and how it is protected. Highlight your insurance policies and memberships in industry associations. When dealing with all of my clients, I operate under the assumption that they will cancel at any minute, and I must return 100% of their money immediately. I realize that is not reality, but it allows me to make sure my mindset is client-forward. Finally, for the cyber threats—that is WAY above my paygrade to thwart them, but I am always making sure my firewalls are up to date along with security certificates and other security issues my tech consultant tells me I need to have. I have insurance to cover a breach. And we have a statement on our site explaining how we protect client data. While I’d like to think no cybercrook is interested in a little Podunk travel agency—I know that is naïve.
I hate to be a Negative Nellie, but it seems that the hits keep on coming, and all we can do is keep on swinging. I am convinced that if we get out in front of the problem and address it, in the end, we’ll come out ahead! Just like in ANY relationship—communication is key!