Travel industry and the long road to recovery
2021 has begun with the good news of Covid19 vaccine gradually being made available across the world. This has given hope to the travel industry and travel businesses have initiated the planning of their recovery process. Though the goal is to get back to normalcy, as in pre-covid period times, it is not easy. Moreover you need to be equipped with the right mindset and tools to navigate the path of recovery.
Business owners who have the foresight to develop and strengthen their most valuable resource i.e. their human resources, will be the ones who can cut through the clutter and increase their service delivery and therefore maximise sales and profits in the future.
Travel Agencies should develop a strategy to proactively partner with employees to acquire professional, trade and soft skills which in turn not only benefits the business but also builds employee retention. Employers must see the long-term benefit and leverage this opportunity to strengthen the workforce for future opportunities and disruptions.
Up-skilling and / or Re-skilling is imperative not only to improve chances of employability in the Covid as well as post-covid period, but also to increase the scope of jobs based on skills they have acquired over a period. Therefore, it is of paramount importance for professionals to prioritise learning and upskilling that can help them. Invest in yourself to emerge ready for a different economy as well as acquire lifelong skills.
As we embark on the path of recovery, we must realize that there has never been a more critical time to invest in your business. mainly in the people part – Your employees…….. Let us see how.
Are you comfortable with the current ‘normal” ?
As you get comfortable in the status quo, the effort to improve reduces.
The time spent on answering / making phone calls, emails, and messages, checking social media might be all worthwhile tasks. However they merely help you pass time without innovating or helping you think about improving your market share or profits.
Do you want to change the Status Quo ?
If your answer is yes, then the very first step is to pause and analyse your daily routine. Think about where you want to be once travel resumes and the competition gets intense. If you think nobody will take away your customers, then you are mistaken. The travel industry is notorious for ridiculously thin margins, customers with little or no loyalty, and absence of skilled workforce. OTAs make it possible for clients to compare price online and make real time decisions. How many times have you lost a client to a competitor for a few thousand Rupees? Once you start relying solely on price to sell, you will quickly realise that this is a race to the bottom. Sadly, many travel agents today are not interested in analysing their business or developing and retaining their most important assets i.e. their people.
Investing in your business, in yourself and your people will be key to challenging the status quo. Learning new skills could make you, your employees and your agency more efficient. Investments could be in terms of upskilling, new-skilling, business analytics, innovation, customer profiling, trade knowledge and embracing the digital world. Remember, it is important to stay relevant or run the risk of losing to competition.
5 things to do to elevate your travel business now
Now that we have identified the status quo and have the desire to change it, let us look at a few things that you need as you go forward.
1. Digital learning
Great utilization of time at near zero effort – Learning can easily occur without disrupting our existing work-schedules. Nowadays, content is bite-sized and engaging. Little nuggets of knowledge make it easy for us to grasp new subjects with the least amount of time and effort.
Most forward-looking companies provide a robust library of e-courses that enable e-learning and helps build a highly skilled talent pool, ready to take the organization to new heights.
Having functional skills isn’t enough. Employers must provide their front-line staff an opportunity to reinforce existing skills with ‘human’ skills like creativity, originality and initiative, critical thinking, persuasion, and negotiation, as well as attention to detail, resilience, flexibility and complex problem-solving.
Indiatraveljobs provides a great e-library of travel products from around the world.
Knowledge is power. Whether through formal education, life experiences or skill enhancements, constant learning makes you look at things with fresh perspective.
Continuously equip yourself with skills relevant not just to your current role but advanced ones too. That will give you the competitive advantage to stay ahead.
Do not think of innovation as a concept not applicable to the travel industry. Today’s successful travel companies like Uber, OTAs, AirBnB, Oyo, etc. are a product of 2 things – Innovation and challenging the status quo.
Think of innovation in every aspect of your business. For example during sales, how often did you propose a well-researched destination to a client. Even during itinerary planning, client retention or day to day communication, just the way an email is composed can make a difference in the client’s perception. Have you ever sent a ‘hand written’ birthday / anniversary card to your client? In a world where a travel agent is a commodity in the eyes of the customer, differentiate yourself using innovative thinking and execution. Make it a habit to stop and think what and how am I doing this task differently from before or from the agency next door. The more you inculcate this habit, the more innovative will be your approach to your own business
Innovation develops your own insights and talents while contributing to organisational improvement.
3. Creative communication
Creative communicator of today can express clearly and creatively using a variety of technology, tools, styles and digital media. Communication along with innovation is the key to set you apart from your competitor and therefore command better margins through better service.
The ability to communicate clearly is a key workplace skill. Travel Industry can expand their literacy skills by using technologies to communicate complex ideas effectively, tailoring content for audiences, and using digital media, social media and visualizations. Digital tools amplify the size and scope of the audience. Hence it is necessary for learner-workers to effectively and appropriately communicate ideas, persuade, and inform others through digital means including social media.
Have you ever thought about collaborating with potential partners that have similar price points from outside the industry? For example, you can buy a holiday in Goa for a lakh of rupees, but you can also buy a Gold or Diamond necklace. The idea is to look at players in the similar price ranges and explore how both of you can benefit. Top end hotels will often collaborate with Top Fashion Brands, Automobile companies and even fractional ownership private jet companies. Be creative and think which collaboration will be strategically beneficial for your business and brand value in the long term
Intra Organisational collaborators are those who use digital and partnership tools to broaden their perspectives and collaborate with others. Successful young professionals use these tools effectively on teams and virtually engage varied viewpoints and expertise locally or globally.
By building familiarity with other cultures and businesses, workers learn to use these tools to better collaborate towards a shared goal.
Additionally, upskilling would not only improve a professional’s chances of employability but would also increase the scope of jobs they could apply based on the skills they have acquired over a period. Every team member brings a particular skill to a project; working in cross-functional teams with people with different skills helps in learning organically. It is a great way to develop skills, share expertise and create an open and inclusive culture. And to ensure the success of a project, one must constantly transform and bring their best to the table.
5. Future-proof yourself, future-proof the organisation
In the new normal, multi-skilling is the new must-have quality. As we get back to our old ways remember to aggressively invest in upskilling to remain valuable to the industry. ‘Future-proofing’ requires not just closing existing skill gaps but strategically evaluating and acquiring the changing skills required for the future. This responsibility is not the employee’s alone. A forward-thinking company will invest in their people not only to increase profitability but equally importantly to absorb future shocks as well.
In conclusion – The path of recovery for travel industry will be long and unpredictable. Hence you must plan and equip yourself with the right tools that will take you closer to your goals and help you succeed. While market will open up with more and more opportunities, the competition will be tough. So everything depends on your skill-set how you navigate your business or career to normal.
A major change in attitude from an employer – employee relationship to a mutually beneficial partnership vision with your team is required. Make them your partners in success to build a lasting and profitable business