Much has been written by leading experts on the things companies need to do to get through this crisis – cutting costs, reducing hours, eliminating wasteful spending and so on. Many tough decisions have been taken and have yet to be taken depending on how things unfold over the coming weeks.
Yet, in this time of so much uncertainty, there is one thing you can be certain of and that is this: IT WILL END. It might be two, four or even six months, but IT WILL END.
We have all heard the analogies, after every storm, comes the calm and after the harshest of winters, spring will always follow. So we can say with confidence, this too will pass. The question for many business owners and managers is will you be able to take advantage of the upturn when it starts?
Everyone has a theory as to how the recovery will happen, but the following is what we see and our recommendations on how to take advantage of it.
- Domestic travel will recover first as people will still be nervous about going abroad.
- Airlines and cruise companies will offer huge incentives to get people moving (for those of you who were in travel post 9/11, remember the patterns).
- Human beings by our nature are a resilient bunch… and we love a bargain. As soon as it is deemed safe and deals appear, we will start moving with gusto after being cooped up for months.
- Once things start moving, it will be slow to begin but momentum will happen quickly.
Our 7 Step Plan for your business
- How quickly can you get your business operational again?
- Though you may have had to put good staff on short time or made them redundant for now, it is so important to stay in contact. As a general act of kindness this is a good habit but also as a business it’s a good thing to do as you will once again need these people (staff will return to places where people cared).
- It is a fact that some businesses will not reopen, so stay in touch with fellow operators in your area. Out of chaos, new opportunities will appear.
- Stay in touch with your local tourist boards. National funding will be delivered in many countries to kick start economies. Be aware of what is happening both nationally and internationally through these sources.
This information will help you form your ‘Return to Business’ strategy for the season ahead.
Know your Business
- Do you know which tours were not just the most popular, but the most profitable?
- Use this time to truly understand your business.
- Get granular detail on your online presence (see below)
- Where did your customers come from?
- How far in advance did they book?
- Which channels delivered volume and the best margin?
- Did different nationalities travel in different seasons?
Many of us are so busy, we rarely get the chance to dig deep into the numbers. Now is your time to do it. This will be time well spent and you will ultimately end up with a more focussed business.
Overlooked Fact: Your online presence isn’t just about your website, but how you appear everywhere online in all channels.
When people say understand your website – what does that actually mean. Whole books have been written on this subject, but in very simple terms, you need to understand the following points. If any of these are under/not performing you need to get the issues addressed. Your website is your shop window to the world and your most important sales channel.
- How does your site perform?
- How well do you convert site visitors?
- Are there clear calls to action?
- What are your most visited pages?
- What is your bounce rate?
- Do you have your site localised into different languages or is it just your home language?
- Do you have reviews on your site? Check out https://www.feefo.com/ and https://www.trustpilot.com/ are both well respected review platforms.
The customer journey on your site is something that you must understand if you want visitors to give you their credit card.
All good SEO begins with understanding customer intent i.e. understanding what are people searching for? The words and phrases they search for i.e. best tour in Dublin, good restaurants in London etc are called keywords/key phrases. https://www.semrush.com/ is the tool I use for keyword research. Understanding what customers are looking for forms the basic foundation of all online marketing that you do bar none.
- With this information you generate stories for your blogs & twitter feeds, images & tags for instagram, secure inbound links from industry partners etc And if you do all of this well, you should rank well in the google rankings. If this is an area that you are unsure of, here is a good straight forward read on the topic How to get to the top of Google. https://www.amazon.com/How-Get-Top-Google-2020-ebook/dp/B083KP37KB/ref=sr_1_3?keywords=google+ninja&qid=1585669289&sr=8-3
Above all else, is your website mobile friendly? Most tours are now booking on mobile devices. Mobile travellers spend more and they leave more reviews. It is not a question of whether you can afford to make your website mobile friendly it is a case of you CANNOT afford to do it.
According to Tourscanner 50% of mobile bookings happen within 2 days of taking a booking.
In 2018 Trekksoft saw 57% of bookings processed via mobile devices, while Klook saw 75%! As an operator, if you do not make it easy for customers to book on their phone, you are effectively putting money into the pockets of your competition. Instead, let your competitors put money in your pocket.
Know your Customers
Seems like an obvious statement, but not everyone truly does. These days knowing your customers is not just saying they come from the UK or Germany or China. It is about knowing what time of the year certain markets travel, where do they access information, what websites do they book on, what is their average price point, what makes for a good experience for them?
- Once you know this, how do you take advantage of that information?
- Is the content on your website in different languages? (ExperienceBank offer a facility to have content translated into Chinese, Japanese, Korean and Arabic. Email firstname.lastname@example.org for details)
- Are your tours delivered in different languages?
- Do you cater for guests with disabilities?
Laser in on your target audience(s) and deliver what they truly want in a way that is meaningful and of value to them.
No company wants to be dependent on any one channel for its business, whether that is your own website or on a partner. While your own direct bookings will give you the best margin, you will find that if Google changes an algorithm you can very quickly loose your top spot. So a diversified distribution strategy where you are not wholly dependent on any one platform is the safest way to protect your long term future.
- Connect to the world’s biggest OTAs via ExperienceBank through one single connection (if you can provide content in local languages it will greatly aid your distribution especially in Asia).
- Take advantage of our Central Contract solution which will further enhance your connection options.
- OTAs will give you first exposure to international visitors who won’t know your brand and who are more likely to book well in advance.
Also connect locally
- Are you connected to local DMO’s in your region?
- Ensure you have a presence in local tourist offices/airports/cruise terminals/bus & train stations.
- Are you working with local hotels?
- Make sure you have relationships with inbound tour operators.
- Package your product with other local suppliers.
Do not wait for the recovery to start as you will be at the back of the queue. Take actions now to ensure when the recovery starts you are ready to reap the rewards.
If you are a supplier or an OTA, please email email@example.com to discuss connectivity options via ExperienceBank.