Let’s be clear before we begin; this is not another doom and gloom post about the impact of COVID-19 on the travel and tourism industry.
If you work in this area then the last thing you need is someone pointing out what you’re already experiencing.
This article is about staying positive and looking at some of the practical things you can do right now to stay connected to your customers. Because the most important thing you can do (maybe the only thing) is to communicate and engage.
This pandemic will pass. And when it does, people will want to travel. They will want to get out of their homes and see more of the world.
And if you can stay top of mind then they will book with you.
Focus on the future
By now you’ll have already reached out to many of your customers about the current situation, issued refunds where necessary and so on.
Our clients in this industry have been using push notifications (web and app variations) to communicate the latest information available because of the channel’s immediacy and visbility. With travel restrictions likely to be extended, cancellations and changes will need to be communicated with speed to preserve your customer relationship.
Of course, all of this service messaging is vital and you should be making that your highest priority.
But beyond that, what else should you be talking about right now? This is where a little bit of creative thinking is needed.
Around the world people are cooped up in their homes while office buildings are locked up under video surveillance (e.g., Arcules). Those who can are working remotely for the first time, in makeshift offices in their living rooms, attics and kitchens. They’re getting outside for 30 minutes of exercise and then heading back indoors.
And all of us have either cancelled travel plans or know someone who has. We’ve all come to terms with the fact that we won’t be taking any vacations for a while. Sure, in the grand scheme of things not getting to go on holidays is a very small matter and there are far more important things to be concerned about, but on an individual level it matters a lot to us.
Indulge and encourage our wanderlust
What are we all thinking about? Where we’ll go when COVID-19 has been eliminated. How many times have you caught yourself day-dreaming about taking a well-earned break later in the year?
Personally, the itch to travel has kicked in hard, and it’s only been a couple of weeks. I can’t imagine how I’ll feel in another month!
If you can tap into this spirit of wanderlust and add value to people’s lives by lightening their mood and getting them excited about travelling, then you’ll reap the benefits in the hopefully not-too-distant future.
After all, there’s going to be a surplus of holiday time to be used up in the latter half of 2020.
So here are some tips and tactics to connect with your customers, and drive revenue, while this pandemic rages on.
Share inspirational content
We’re all looking for things to brighten our spirits at the moment, so why not be a positive force and send your customers links to podcasts, travelogues and playlists and or even recommend some travel books for them to read?
Inspire people, get them excited about travelling and encourage them to plan their next trip for when this is all over.
Ideally, this would largely be your own content, created in-house, but don’t be afraid to engage with bloggers and influencers either.
You could ask them to share their favourite travel destinations and tips. Or better yet, reach out to your customers for their stories. You could offer a discount on their next booking as a way to sweeten the deal.
Then put these all together for your next email newsletter and spread some positivity.
Personalisation is key
You’re sitting on a mound of valuable customer data right now. Put it to use and make sure that the content you share with people is relevant to their interests and cancelled travel plans.
Segment your lists based on where people had been hoping to travel to or the activities they were planning. Keep the flame alive so that they re-book when restrictions are lifted. And why not start promoting vouchers for them to redeem at a later stage?
Prepare for a surge in domestic tourism
Don’t be surprised if international travel doesn’t quite bounce back to its pre-pandemic level for some time.
Even when each of the affected areas have been given the all-clear and the instance of new cases has dwindled down to zero, there will be a certain amount of residual hesitance to visit them.
In the UK, several travel and tourism brands expect to see the percentage of domestic guests increase throughout 2020. It could be worthwhile to start thinking now about campaigns aimed at people who aren’t quite ready to leave their own country just yet.
Things will eventually calm down, lockdowns and restrictions on unnecessary travel and gatherings will be lifted. People will start booking short breaks but won’t want to stray too far from home. Make sure you’re getting offers and ideas in front of these people.
At this difficult time it’s vital that brands and their service providers work together. We’re all in this together. We cannot stress too much the value of staying in touch with consumers.
We’ll be sharing more tips and use cases over the coming weeks to help travel and tourism brands connect and stay top of mind. Keep an eye out for upcoming webinars too.
In the meantime, get in touch if you have some specific use cases you’d like to explore.