How to Lead Your Travel Business Through the COVID-19 Pandemic
The unexpected disruption caused by the COVID-19 (coronavirus disease) pandemic took all of us by surprise and suddenly rendered the whole world in a frenzy. Nobody knows how bad (or good) things are going to get from here. In reality, what we’re witnessing is a black-swan occurrence.
There is a lot of good advice floating around the internet on how to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. On the health front, the website of the World Health Organization is an excellent tool for learning about preventive steps.
Our area of expertise revolves around customer engagement and conversion rate optimization, and confidence is obviously the most important element right now. People are afraid. They are scared about their health, jobs, and safety of loved ones.
So, our advice is to look at it from the perspective of optimizing people’s confidence in you because you’re doing whatever you can to give them protection and security.
In moments like these, when there are general uncertainty and fear, you are likely to see people err on the side of protection and self-interest. When consumers, staff, and suppliers are too cautious, all companies will be under pressure to reach the targets, which will lead to a desire to be opportunistic.
What your business can do to increase trust?
We suggest setting up an internal task force for COVID-19 pandemic not only to respond quickly to emerging problems but also to think proactively about how the company can benefit people.
Communicate the same thing to the clients. They need to know you are investing in keeping them safe.
Avoid the temptation to run offers
With decreased competition, prices for airlines and hotels are falling; so, the income is likely to have a short-term effect. Your marketing department needs to realize that delivering deals to consumers is likely to be viewed negatively, and however little money you can gain from doing so does not compensate for the long-term deficit that your company does face.
You don’t want to run newsletters like this one: ‘The Upside of COVID-19: Inexpensive Travel Offers.’
Make cancellations for the customer easy.
Many of your customers may be struggling to cancel their travel plans right now. Understand that they don’t do so out of choice, but out of necessity. A few travel companies have started relocating their workforce to accommodate cancellations. You, too should during this COVID-19 pandemic.
Many of these steps would require investment or the recognition of decreased performance, and they will reach your bottom line. But, by taking these steps, the message you give to your clients is that they can trust you to have their interests in mind.
Communicate to your clients that you are eligible for immediate and versatile assistance. Your clients may be under various kinds of stress, and you do not know exactly what they’re going through. Your promise that you will be there for them and that you will make an extra effort to deliver on these promises will go a long way towards strengthening their faith in you.
Show flexibility in terms of payment. If you can afford it, don’t risk a customer just because they’re unable to pay you for this period of time. If you’re showing flexibility now, they’re going to notice it, and they’re likely to reciprocate in the future.
In moments of panic, there is an unconscious bias in prioritizing attention-grabbing news. The facts are typically balanced and dull, so this bias could make your teams publish things that are unsubstantiated.
However, if you do so, not only do you add to the hysteria, but if the customer sees through it, your integrity will be at risk forever. Right information benefits people directly and entertainment decreases anxiety and loneliness in social isolation.
In our next article, we shall tell you what to do to bounce back once the COVID-19 pandemic is over.
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About Sabre Corporation
Sabre Corporation is the leading technology provider to the global travel industry. Sabre’s software, data, mobile and distribution solutions are used by hundreds of airlines and thousands of hotel properties to manage critical operations, including passenger and guest reservations, revenue management, flight, network, and crew management. Sabre also operates a leading global travel marketplace, which processes more than US$120 billion of global travel spend annually by connecting travel buyers and suppliers. Headquartered in Southlake, Texas, USA, Sabre serves customers in more than 160 countries around the world.