The entire travel industry has been grappling with the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic for the past 2 years. From travel restrictions to flight cancellations, the list of setbacks continues to mount as the situation rages on.
Despite these challenges, we collectively take comfort in the fact that travel is one of the world’s most resilient industries. It’s weathered multiple adversities in the past, and it’s always managed to survive and flourish.
We can’t say for sure when travel will be back in full force, but we’re more than certain that it will bounce back to pre-pandemic efficiencies.
As the world continues to adapt to the new normal, tour operators and managers need to think of ways to keep the business going in the post-pandemic world.
So for today’s article, I’ll talk about the different strategies that can help us prepare for and meet the demands of post-COVID-19 travel.
1. Focus on customer experience
Working around travel restrictions is easier said than done, but it shouldn’t discourage us from keeping our travel business going. Let’s not just wait for the situation to sort itself out.
Take this as an example: during the early months of the pandemic, local tour operators adapted to the travel bans by offering virtual travel and domestic tours.
These alternative travel options were effective in fighting the boredom of customers who are seeking to escape the monotony of being at home. The thirst for travel remains as strong despite the pandemic, so we have to come up with ways to cater to customers in any way possible.
Another example of travel businesses adapting to the new normal is airlines flying medical volunteers free of charge and hotels offering free accommodations to healthcare workers.
Providing free services to frontline workers was a marketing strategy for airlines and hotels as people became aware of their participation in the fight against the pandemic.
Remember: customers are more likely to avail of your services if they know how you’re paying it forward!
2. Evaluate the competitive landscape
There’s no denying that the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has been massive in every part of the world.
Apart from massive layoffs and budget cuts, travel brands had to think of strategies to keep the lights on amid the lack of profit.
The thing is, the recovery timeline won’t be the same for every country, with some already in the recovery phase while others are still struggling to cope with the virus.
The challenge for travel brands is to evaluate what the competitive landscape might look like in the era of post-COVID-19 travel. Evaluating the competitive landscape means being ready to gain market share, cater to different markets, and provide new products and services.
To do this, we need to analyse customer behaviour to understand what they might want to experience while travelling once the pandemic is over, or at least under control. It also means letting go of our selling and marketing strategies from before the pandemic.
For example, instead of cruises selling through tour operators and tour agents, selling directly to customers may be more effective and cost-efficient.
The pandemic has been filled with uncertainties, so it’s natural for customers to seek flexible cancellations and rescheduling policies when planning their future travels. Incorporating flexibility into our services may help us attract more customers.
3. Put health at the forefront
If there’s one thing we learned from the pandemic, it’s that our health and safety is everything.
We can expect that our customers will have a higher standard for safety and health in the era of post-COVID-19 travel. Travellers would want to feel safe at all times while exploring, so it’s our duty to give them that reassurance.
Turning to technology for safety and health precautions is surely a huge investment, but it’s an investment that’s going to pay off in the long run.
Platforms like contactless payment are the first ones that comes to my mind as contactless transactions are slowly becoming the norm. It’d be beneficial to any type of business as well.
Meanwhile, digital tools such as e-tickets allow travel companies to provide services to customers without face-to-face contact.
Hotels will have to invest in more contactless technologies such as biometrics, gesture controls, and even facial recognition to observe social distancing in the new normal.
Making travel safe for every customer
There’s no doubt that the pandemic has changed the travel landscape, so it’s imperative to adjust our services to these changes if we want our business to survive and flourish in the post-COVID-19 world.
As a business owner yourself, what are your thoughts about this matter? Feel free to let me know in the comments!
If you’re looking for local partnerships to promote your organisation or initiative, feel free to get in touch with me! Let’s see how we can help each other to weather the brunt of the pandemic!
Feel free to see our tours!