It’s unprecedented times for the travel industry as global reactions to the pandemic continue to unfold. Despite the challenges we’re currently facing, history shows that tourism is resilient, having bounced back from crises such as SARS, H1N1, and the Global Financial Crisis in the past.
Of course, that doesn’t lessen the impact of what’s happening right now. For many travel companies, their employees, and clients, it’s a case of coming to grips with the uncertainties and reacting to the unique situation everyone finds themselves in.
Aside from the information the CDC and WHO has on offer regarding public health and safety measures, we wanted to share a checklist of tips to help travel companies work out their policies and response to these times.
Proactively working together is the best we can do at the moment, both to curb the spread of COVID-19 as well as lessen the disruption the disease will have on the global economy in the long term.
Operational Checklist For Travel Companies During The Coronavirus Pandemic
Organize Employees and Contractors
1. Appoint a Person or Team To Manage Safety In The Workplace
If it’s not you, then task an employee or team with leading and coordinating the readiness and response to the Coronavirus in your workplace and across your business. The entire company should know who to report to and how to do it should they suspect they have been exposed to the virus or need advice.
2. Compile Outbreak Response Plan
You need a comprehensive document to outline the company’s outbreak response plan surrounding Coronavirus in the workplace.
It should include guidelines on how to take responsible safety measures like washing hands and limiting contact with people, outline the precautions your company is putting into place, such as: making hand sanitizer available and increased routine cleaning, as well as detail the response procedures to follow in the case of possible exposure.
3. Review Sick Leave Policies
The CDC recommends that under the circumstances, it’s advisable to ensure that sick leave policies are flexible. If employees fall ill or need to stay home to care for someone who is, they need to be able to do this without feeling pressured to come into work and possibly spread the virus.
4. Circulate Daily Safety Awareness Updates
Each day is bringing about developments in the status of the pandemic. Advise your designated team to closely monitor the reputable sources for updates on anything that applies to your business or employees. This should then be circulated internally on a daily basis to comply with official guidance and ensure that you are taking reasonable steps to protect employees.
5. Provide Guidelines For Working Remotely
Equipped with the right tools your sales and operational teams can work remotely. Be open in communicating expectations around how employees should work, including how often they need to check in, management and logging of their hours, performance expectation, and which channels they should be working on.
Communicate With Clients
6. Be Helpful, It’s Not The Time To Sell
COVID-19 is a very real concern that’s going to see travelers canceling or postponing plans for the foreseeable future. Until the situation stabilizes, your time is best spent supporting clients to ensure that your business is the one they look to for planning holidays later on.
This includes safely bringing home those who are already traveling, proactively communicating updates to those who are scheduled to leave, and being sensitive to the stress that everyone is under at the moment.
7. Manage Chargebacks and Disputes
As the Coronavirus is classified as a force majeure, banks may issue chargebacks to cardholders. Unlike refunds, chargebacks are issued without the consent of the merchant. It’s, therefore, crucial to avoid this situation at all costs, as it could have long-lasting effects on your reputation and relationship with clients, not to mention your financial position.
In the case that clients decide not to travel, most industry suppliers are passing on travel credit for the person to use in the future, or giving them the flexibility to reschedule. As a last resort, companies are processing a refund if the first two options are not suitable.
Overall, the priority in this situation is to maintain strong client relationships without compromising your travel company’s financial stability more than it already has been.
Stay In Touch With Vendors
8. Strengthen Vendor Relationships During This Time
It’s equally important to check in with your suppliers and partner network during this time to see how they are coping. They are as vested as you in seeing your business succeed and having relationships to support your business through a crisis can be the key to ensuring you bounce back.
9. Negotiate Payments
If you’re on good terms with your vendors, you should be able to negotiate payments with them. For example, receiving the same travel credit or flexibility that you pass onto your clients. This is beneficial to you both as everyone seeks to mitigate the financial impact on their business.
Future Proof Your Business
10. Map Out Cost-Cutting Strategies
COVID-19 is already having an impact on the bottom line of businesses globally. Be prepared for cost-cutting and review your budget to lay out a plan for the next few months.
11. Attend To Tasks You Normally Don’t Have Time For
Use this time when there’s a slow in sales wisely. After ensuring all your employees and clients are safe, keep productive by working through the jobs that were low priority before.
This could be revamping your website, putting together new tour itineraries for local destinations, or reviewing your digital marketing plan. It could also be taking courses or using some downtime for yourself.
Take Care Of Your Health While Managing The Crisis
It’s a stressful time for everyone, but don’t forget to look out for your own health, both physically and mentally, while navigating your business through these waters. Strong leadership has never been more important and setting the example for the rest of your team, clients, and vendors will help you through this.
We’re all in this together. If you need any help managing your trips on WeTravel, please get in touch.
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