As the travel and tourism industry struggles with the ongoing C-19 crisis, with hotels and tourism businesses closing and teams laid off, the industry is being decimated. Business owners are looking for guidance and need a guide to recovery.
They are crying out for direction. The industry needs to urgently become more focused and professionally communicate what the travel and tourism industry can do once the recovery starts to take place.
They are hungry for leadership and in some cases that hunger exists in their families as generations of travel and tourism employees are laid off.
The World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) has provided some leadership with recommendations calling for urgent government support. The recommendations are the first from the Global Tourism Crisis Committee, established by UNWTO with high-level representatives.
Their recommendations call on everyone to prepare now for recovery to come back stronger and more sustainable.
The Recommendations for Action are the first comprehensive set of actions governments and the private sector can take now and in the challenging months ahead.
To be most effective our response needs to be “…quick, consistent, united and ambitious,” they said.
But how does everyone plan for recovery?
1. Be prepared
As the old saying goes it is never too early to be prepared. Contingency plans are a good idea. Take a look at varying degrees of business stress. Ask “What if….” questions. Starting at worst-case scenarios first then work back.
When a plan is developed, focus on the long-term and consider the impact on customer satisfaction, employee satisfaction, and the long-term image of the brand. Losing sight of the long-term may end up compromising customer and employee satisfaction and hurting profitability and viability.
2. Do not panic
Stay calm and focused. Look for solutions. Do not compare downturn periods with previous good periods. Think more in terms of long-term decisions.
Discounting is easy but may not be the answer.
Try bundling benefits into packages. Add value rather than discounts. Time and again, businesses realize how it would take years to recover from the discounting that they engaged in during an economic downturn.
If discounts must be offered, do so in an intelligent way, without costing the business too much. Think about what customers want. Also, focus on packages that are unique — in hotels, for instance, anyone can offer an extra night for free, so try to develop packages that are exclusive.
3. Maintain marketing budgets
Keep current customers and develop packages and promotions that attract both current and new potential business. This is only possible if the marketing budget is maintained. Look beyond the horizon. Explore smaller, less price-sensitive market segments and develop new revenue streams for food and beverage, take-away menus, bakeries, internet cafes. Look at health clubs and spas for more diversification.
Ensure emphasis with teams on how to optimize revenue conversion from all revenue streams, be it large or small, which will ultimately help to improve bottom lines.
4. Maintain service levels
If costs must be cut, do so in areas of the business that does not impact customers directly. If customer satisfaction and service quality are negatively affected, it will be more difficult to both maintain current customers and attract new customers after C-19 is over.
5. Gather intelligence. Determine the context of the crisis
Take a moment to gather all the information and to see clearly what is really going on. Assessment of the situation will determine the course of action, so proceed with caution.
Talk to all the stakeholders; seek their expertise and opinions; let them know the problem is being taken seriously. This is a time when leaders are proven. Be a leader.
6. Good leaders communicate clearly and often
In a crisis, a void of information is usually perceived as negative. It’s not the time to hope the C-19 crisis will just disappear. It is already known its impact will be long and deep. Answer questions and provide information. Communicate future plans and strategy confidently and clearly – the message delivered repeatedly and consistently will get through but ensure it is backed-up by decisive action. Once again, it’s time for leadership. By understanding the situation, motivating teams, and activating a clear strategy, the heartache, negative perceptions, and the hit on the bottom line can be mitigated.
The future has multiple business timelines to consider, immediate (now) and those in the future.
All business and marketing plans in this C-19 era, are void and out-of-date. What more do business owners need to quickly establish as the wheels of industry start turning again?
Ask lots of questions…
- What to do to safeguard further debt and damage to business?
- What financial help is out there for business owners and how to apply for assistance?
- What help is there to employees and former employees? For instance government funds, eg., in Thailand how to help teams apply for Social Security Funding (SSF)?
- Where to go to look for business?
Participate in industry-wide initiatives to prepare for recovery – initiatives that require both action and yet more leadership. If travel is a problem, consider video conferencing, webinars, and other social distancing “friendly” alternatives.
Travel is at a virtual standstill. But it will return.