This blog is part of Tandem’s COVID-19 Business Resource Series, where we will update the community regularly and offer industry-specific tips as well as our best solutions to minimize the economic risk many businesses may endure during this critical time. Tandem appreciates your trust in us and will continue to be your valued digital marketing partner during this pandemic.
Impact of COVID-19 on Travel and Tourism Industries
Travel and tourism are a driving force for the economy in states such as Texas, Nevada, and Florida.1 Millions of people traveling to the country’s most desired destinations are what many small or independent business owners rely on to make a living and take care of their families. So, what happens when their source of income is threatened, or worse, eliminated? During hurricane season, many businesses develop an emergency response plan.2 Hotels can accommodate slow seasons with staffing changes and by working on other projects like a revamped SEO marketing strategy. When there is a national disaster that no one anticipates, however, how do you keep your company in good shape? The effects of the pandemic on travel and tourism are especially challenging when the entire world is encouraged, and more often required, to shelter in place. Start by staying on top of what’s happening across multiple sectors of your industry at large.
Travel Business Status
As of March 25, 2020, seven out of ten hotel rooms were empty across the country. Since mid-February, US hotels have already lost more than $5 billion in room revenue. The utter breakdown of the system has led to layoffs and furloughs for 70% of hotel employees.3 Cruise ships are unable to dock at ports, leaving many stranded and scared, including employees who are not receiving pay.4 As of March 13, 2020, cruise lines that are members of the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) have temporarily and voluntarily suspended cruise ship operations from U.S. ports.5 Many airlines face uncertainty but are receiving a $58 billion stimulus aid from the U.S. stimulus package.6
COVID-19 is a global pandemic that is affecting many business owners and employees. Millions of people are being let go from their jobs, businesses are forced to close, economies are suffering. Though the circumstances are grim, there is still hope for business owners, ways that businesses can support each other, provide aid to the public, and for the public to support them in return. Tandem Interactive’s marketing experts in South Florida have compiled a guide to help travel companies navigate these troubled waters.
Strategies to Save Your Customer’s Travel Plans During COVID-19
As a hotelier or cruise line, the last thing you want is a wave of cancellations. However, in times of crisis, the first thing consumers are going to do is to try to cancel their plans and save their dollars. The travel and tourism industry can still appeal to the consumer’s needs while also easing their worries, though. After all, consumers like to feel appreciated and heard. In addition to sharing your company’s efforts to slow the curve of the coronavirus, the next best thing to do to combat COVID-19 in hospitality is to offer solutions.
Prevent Cancelations by Offering Specials
If your boutique hotel depends on the tourism boost of spring break or the Easter holiday, prepare your business for the months ahead by offering or extending deals to consumers through the rest of the year. Though most consumers are trying to save money, especially during these uncertain times, they are more likely to reschedule instead of cancel if they see that the hotel they booked genuinely cares about guest’s experience and is willing to work with them.
Retain Customers with Travel Vouchers
Especially during an unexpected global emergency, when there’s still so much uncertainty, most people likely aren’t thinking about their next travel dates and would probably decline the offer to reschedule. Instead, offer a travel voucher with an extended expiration date to show your guest that they are valued, not to mention the added bonus of their guaranteed future patronage.
Employ Social Media to Your Advantage
Though it is hard to reach out to every individual customer, making use of social media marketing is great during a time like the coronavirus pandemic. Announcing an offer on social media that applies to guests whose travel plans were affected is an excellent way to maintain your customer base. Be sure to include a call to action in your social media post so that guests can reach out and claim their vouchers. Also, consider using video marketing, as several countries have done, including Britain, to make an emotional impact on your guests and increase potential sales through marketing campaigns.7
Join Charitable Efforts During a Global Crisis
Certain government programs that aim to give back to the world and encourage positivity during this crisis can help you stay afloat. One such program is Hotels for Hope, which connects hotels with health workers and first responders in need of temporary housing. Consider also working with the government by volunteering hotel properties for quarantine usage and other such initiatives.8
Make Use of Available Technology
Innovation is constantly occurring in the realm of technology. Many start-ups will be hit hard in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic while others have novel solutions to the latest business issues. Take, for instance, RubiQ, a start-up helping airlines with rebooking and refunds through their disruption management platform, Aircules. Partnering or acquiring these types of services will aid your travel company in staying afloat amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.9
Dr. Donna Quadri-Felitti, Marvin Ashner Director and Associate Professor at The Pennsylvania State University School of Hospitality Management, says technology has played a huge role in helping the industry continue to operate under a ‘new normal.’ Contactless check-in/check-out, keyless room entry, touchless elevators, virtual TV remotes, and social distancing apps are being deployed by hotels across the world to keep visitors safe and comfortable.10
Other blogs in this series:
1Investopedia – 10 States Cashing in on Tourism
2Gulfshore Insurance – 5 Ways Businesses Can Prepare for Hurricane Season
4Ship Technology – Coronavirus Measures and Impact on the Cruise Industry
8Hotel Management – Hoteliers Open Doors to Help Those Fighting COVID-19
9Plug and Play – The Impact of COVID-19 on the Travel & Hospitality Industry
10Bankrate – Summer travel trends and safety during COVID