By: PATRICK MCGOVERN

DIRECTOR OF BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT, ASCEDIA

Board Member, The Travel Institute

 

By now, we have all had a heapin’ helping of bad news regarding the travel industry. But there is a faint light up ahead.

Today, let’s pivot and focus on some positive news. Below are eight things to consider about travel.

  1. Two studies have recently been published. One by Global Web Index (GWI). The other by Fuel. Both have interesting insights into the travel space. A significant number of people surveyed indicated their plans have not been impacted.

Both studies found that a significant number of those surveyed (nearly 50% or just over 50%) indicated they have canceled or rescheduled their trip due to the impact of the Coronavirus outbreak. Not surprising.

But keep in mind, that means there’s a sizable portion of the population that has not been impacted by recent events. At least not yet.

So, if you have any clients on the books, now is a good time to reach out and get a temperature check. See what service or advice you can provide.

  1. Many are not interested in booking a vacation — but a number are: It’s clear this is a bad time to be selling travel. In fact, according to GWI, 53% reported: “they could not be persuaded to book at this time.” And this is understandable.

What’s interesting is there are 47% who could be persuaded to act. That’s a significant number. Bottom line: there’s an opportunity out there to begin a conversation. But tread softly, this is not the time to go in with a hard sell.

  1. What’s going to get passengers to rebook? Price and flexibility are two key elements to help passengers over the booking hurdle. As we have seen with past crises, discounting will bring back activity. Given current conditions, travelers will also be looking for flexible options in the event of sudden changes. Keep these points in mind as you are reaching out to your clients.
  1. A big number is looking to plan another vacation within the next year: Even more encouraging is this next finding. According to GWI, 70% surveyed indicated they would look to plan another vacation within the next year! That’s significant and leads perfectly into our next point.

 

  1. Prepare for a post Coronavirus world: Many in the travel space were caught flat-footed and unprepared for the pandemic when it hit. Here’s the good news. You have a second chance at bat.

Right now is the time to be thinking about your business post-crisis. But that’s a big ask and there are many unknowns. So, here’s a way you can think about it.

Break down your focus into smaller segments. What do you need to accomplish in a 30-day window post virus peak? What are the steps you need to take 60 days past peak? 90 days, etc…

If the increments aren’t right… change ‘em up. The takeaway is to be thinking of bite-sized tasks that you can handle. For many, looking too far out is just…overwhelming.

Here are a few points to jumpstart the process:

  • What clients do you need to reach out to?
  • What is your messaging to your employees and clients in the 30-,60-, and 90-day timeframes?
  • What suppliers do you need to connect with?
  • What training are you going to need to best prepare yourself and your staff moving forward?

The time and energy you put in now can make a big difference to your performance in the back half of the year and into 2021.

  1. Understanding vacation preferences: Keep in mind, there’s a high likelihood your client’s travel preferences have changed. The trip to Europe is not going to be as appealing as it was three months ago. Be prepared to pivot.

Looking back after 9/11 and the financial meltdown in 2008, driving and more regional types of vacations came back first with foreign travel following. A good bet is this same pattern will hold for post-COVID-19. My guess is Europe, Asia, and cruises will see a slower rebound vs. domestic, Mexico, and Caribbean travel.

  1. Wellness will be important: One area that will be important is wellness travel. The GWI study found that 37% indicated they are more health-conscious now. And when we look at Millennials, that number jumps to 39%. It wouldn’t surprise me if it continues to increase as the crisis wears on. Given all this, use this time to research supplier products that promote wellness and use this information to help inform and educate your clients.
  1. Finally, don’t be silent. Throughout this, it’s important to stay connected with your clients and prospective clients. Agents and agencies need to stay top of mind by putting out content across as many platforms. But don’t sell. Instead inform, educate and entertain. The time to sell will come later.

Look, there still are a lot of twists and turns left in this story. But by this point, I hope you come away with a bit more optimism towards travel. And some thoughts to keep you moving in the right direction.

About Patrick McGovern

Pat McGovern has been in the Marketing and Advertising space his entire career. He currently is the Director of Business Development for Ascedia, a digital-only agency located in Milwaukee. Throughout his career, Pat has worked with a wide array of clients from Fortune 500 to start-up players and everything in between.

He has extensive background in the travel space. While at The Mark Travel Corporation, Pat worked on the marketing and branding for Funjet Vacations, Southwest Vacations, United Vacations, Blue Sky Vacations and Sun Country Airlines. He has also worked extensively with hotel chains and CVBs throughout Mexico and the Caribbean.

Pat is also the president of the American Marketing Association – Milwaukee chapter. He is an avid runner, reader and loves the opportunity to get into a river to enjoy fly-fishing.