Getting ready for the post-covid travel recovery ?

While many travel agencies are cutting budgets to save or manage finances, don’t forget that marketing is more important than ever. Engage with your customers, update them about new openings and new travel rules and restrictions. Chatting and discuss upcoming travel trends with travellers can create a sense of loyalty between an agency and its customer. It can speed up their recovery post-recession by building brand value and awareness during the recession. Keep reminding people that the world will be waiting when they begin to travel again. Use this down time to re-evaluate customer service. Find ways to demonstrate empathy and ultimately earn the client’s trust. Thus you can be ready for the post-covid travel recovery

Engage with vendors to keep the relationship going

A common mistake that most agencies make is not engaging with their vendors / partners. Remember, this is a people’s business where relationships need to be built and nurtured. An adhoc approach to business based on ‘need only’ approach may alienate you from your contacts and friends working with your vendor companies. Additionally, there may be new contacts at these companies as it is likely that they may have laid off / furloughed / re-assigned their employees in the wake of covid. Staying on top of your partner’s mind is as important as staying in top of your customer’s mind.

Actively plan for future growth

It must have been hard to co-ordinate and manage the team who have been working from home . With the scenario now set to change, it is time to regroup your key team and prepare a plan for not just to get back into action, but also to scale up in a time bound manner. Who knows maybe the demand may be more than projected?

It is best to prepare an immediate vision for the next 1 year. List out achievable goals and have a plan of definite activities to do for each quarter in the post-covid travel recovery period. Ensure that your plan covers areas such as product development, marketing, resource planning and risk mitigation.

Here is an article we published on the long road to recovery earlier this year

Use technology to off-set costs and streamline your operations

Invest in atleast a modest CRM software to capture your clients’ special dates, travel patterns, likes and dislikes. There has never been a better time to know your customers better! Make it a point to place responsibility of client interactions for clients’ special occasions with a senior employee if not with the company owner directly.

Update your agency website and encourage customers to visit the site often for ideas and travel news. However, you need to make sure the website is actively managed to display only the most current and credible information. We are seeing a surge of booking requests and cancellations in these uncertain times. Hence, readily available current information has the possibility of reducing these upheavals.

Use digital and social media channels to connect with existing as well as new customers. This is a very cost effective way of leveraging technology to build your business.

Partner with people who have similar values and can offer more value for your learning and marketing efforts. Indiatraveljobs has an e-Library of travel products where you and your staff can keep up with the latest product offerings.

Importantly, remember that technology is only an enabler and not the end product for guaranteeing success of your business

Be aware of your competition and your surroundings

The economic impact of COVID-19 has been huge. Almost all agencies big or small have faced financial difficulties and some even bankruptcy. Recovery will not be the same for all. It will vary in terms of timeline or scale for agencies depending on how they have acted under pressure during the pandemic. 

In the post-covid travel recovery period, domestic travel is likely to recover faster than international travel and some countries will be open for business before others. Travel Agencies that have quickly made the transition to domestic leisure business will be in a better position than those that have simply waited for good times to come.

While the timeline is hard to predict, companies in the position to do so need to take steps now to be ready to gain new customers, and offer new products. Once they identify these customers and products they can streamline their marketing activities to be able to get the right messages to the right customers at the right time. Setting up client personas based on the information gleaned from CRMs can help to put the right offers and promotions in front of the right customers. This in turn will help travel companies bounce back more quickly. 

Be real and be practical

Don’t expect others to help you if you have not helped yourself. The government may or may not offer concessions or sops for the travel industry. Countries may or may not offer flexible, restriction free travel, the pandemic cannot be wished away. 

The travel industry is heavily influenced by many external factors which has been exposed by the current pandemic. This is a fact of life. Smart business owners have already accepted these factors and have prepared for the post-covid travel boom. No doubt they will also adapt very quickly to the changing equations in the post covid period to ensure they succeed in this new world.

“The travel industry is at a point of disruption. The future will be brighter but different from what we’ve seen in the past,” said David Taylor, strategy and consulting lead at Publicis Sapient. “As we consider the economic consequences combined with the explosion of new technologies from 5G to artificial intelligence, I’m excited to see how companies respond and evolve and how the start-up community emerges from this event.”

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