How Can Small Travel Business Survive Tough Times and Make the Most of It?
During this time of medical chaos and economic slowdown, the travel and hospitality sector is not the only one to be hit by this recession, but it isseverely affected. A ban on almost global travel is unprecedented. Travel and airline giants are tumbling to their lowest operation points with no immediate solution in sight; borders are closing down; hotels and venues are shutting down; tours get cancelled and people are very cautious about spending money on any travel in 2020. So, how can a boutique travel or hospitality business survive this? You might have learned about famous brands such as Procter & Gamble, Chevy, and Camel that grew and gained popularity during the Great Depression because they advertised heavily during the tough times to find fortune during the good ones. And for some businesses, it can be a good strategy to keep in mind. In fact, PPC key-word price points went drastically down and if you google various destinations, you will find plenty of ads for each. But trying times such as these also call for tighter control of your marketing strategy and for… getting your crystal ball out. While we cannot change some things, let’s see what we can focus on during the slow time.
- Make your current customers your highest priority.
Needless to say, accommodating your current customers and communicating with them about their travel arrangements is yourhighest priority. But once that dust settles, create a master plan of communication with ALL your existing customers and leads in your database. Your database is all you have now for some time if you are pausing your lead generating activities and this is your chance to inspect it, analyze it, organize, segment it and get to know it better.
- Keep the dreams alive.
Keep your dreams alive and keep THEIR dreams of travel alive by staying connected to your customer. Seeing the familiar images from your brandreinforces the emotional connection to your brand and does keep their dreams alive and spirits brighter. Their dream is to be able to travel again. Social Media is an excellent tool toget to know your current customers better, to cheer them up, to share your current updates without the sales hype and with almostone on one contact. Give them some good content to read, learn and bookmark for future.
- Keep your eyes on the goal.
Long sales cycle of a travel conversion can help you play a lucky hand here. As soon as travel bans are lifted and health risks subside, the affluent sector will get back to travel immediately and may be searching for great offers right now. The affluent traveler is affected the least during recessions and does not need time for financial recovery. They plan in advance and can be easily booking a year or two in advance. Adjust your product offerings and price points accordingly to accommodate the audience that you serve.
- Look for New Opportunities
Every recession offers plenty of opportunities for new businesses and for existing businesses to re-invent their offerings. Currently, companies are adjusting quickly to manage businesses remotely; entertainment industry is offering new formats such as shows recorded without audiences and streaming from different locations;museums are offering virtual tours; restaurants switched to curbside service and even wineries are hosting virtual Happy Hour and wine deliveries. What can your business do to re-invent and re-package your products and offer a different format?
- Always Keep on Marketing & Improve your Positioning
The Golden Rule of marketing is to always keep promoting your brand and your service, so that you always have leads to work with. But do it wisely. Most companies will cut back their operational budgets but maintain their marketing budgets to create an opportunity to gain more brand awareness. It’s an opportunity to refocus on what works well and stop what’s less effective.
- Get under the hood with some tools.
When phones are not ringing and leads are scarce, spend your time on what matters and be ready to be able to jump back in the game quickly. But first, take a step back from your business and look at it with the fresh set of eyes.
Analyze your branding and messaging – is it clear? Is it exciting? Does it capture the audience that you are servicing?
Maybe you’ve been actually attracting a different type of customer and it’s time to adjust and upgrade your branding?
What is your customer journey like? Outline a clearly defined funnel and content strategy that you use to bring in new leads. Analyze content, improve graphics, design new funnels to reflect the new reality.
Become an SEO Champ
If you are cutting down advertising budget, invest wisely in hard earned Search Engine Optimization. A few months of continuous work with links and content can create magic in your positioning. Wouldn’t it be great to move up to the first page of Google search results during the slow time? And when people are ready to travel again – whoa – your company is in the spotlight! So, the basic steps would include:
- Fixing errorsand broken links on your website
- Adding new content with relevant tags
- Finding new partners for backlinking
Roll up the sleeves and spend some time under the hood with your marketing agency to be able to celebrate new achievements in due time.