As COVID-19 continues to spread across the world, the travel industry is looking at further trip cancellations and low to non-existent demand. While we’re not in it alone, the uncertainties lying ahead indicate that we are in for a bumpy ride over the next few months.
In looking to the future, it’s crucial to remember that this crisis will not last forever. However, despite the cancellations and absence of bookings, now is not the time to sell, as you know. Instead, it is time for travel companies to provide incredible customer support. It is time to lead by example and assist your clients, employees, and partners through difficult circumstances.
In this post, we will walk you through laying a strong foundation for your relationships now, so that clients who cancel will be willing to rebook in the future.
How To Turn Cancellations Into Future Reservations For Your Travel Business
Exercise Empathy To Everyone’s Unique Situations
Policies form a foundational guideline layer for businesses. By design, these documents protect business concerns, as well as set procedures surrounding hiring, operations, sales, booking and reservations, and insurance.
So, it may seem counterintuitive to go against the guideline documents when cancellations come in. While they may violate the terms you set out, the unique circumstances should be taken into account.
Like you, your clients may be frustrated or even afraid of the unknown surrounding what is ahead. Your tour is not the reason for cancelation – the virus is. What you need to do in this situation is to be empathetic. Place yourself in your clients’ shoes to determine what response you would want to receive.
Keep in mind as you draft a response, that even though clients are canceling now, they may want to sign up for your tour again in the future. Ensure that the message you craft back acknowledges the request they have made, lets them know that you understand their situation, and are working on a solution.
In turn, being honest about the position you are in and laying reasonable expectations can help you to work through the crisis together and come out on good terms.
Be Swift In Your Response
When it comes to customer service, clients expect rapid response, especially on social media channels. Monitor these, along with your other methods of communication such as email or phone, to ensure that you pick up every bit of client communication.
The inevitable cancellation requests are going to come in, and that’s ok. When they do, assist your clients and process these as quickly as possible. Streamlining the process and actioning refunds timeously means that clients will leave with a great impression of your brand and be willing to engage with you again.
The alternative of delaying refunds and not processing cancellations can result in bad PR for your company or chargebacks being made. These, of course, are situations you want to avoid. They can damage your reputation, ruin client relationships, reduce immediate cash flow, and lower your credit rating.
Offer Alternatives To Cancellations
Inevitably, the pressing issue surrounding increased cancellations is managing your cash flow. With no idea of what’s around the next corner and less money coming in, you need to be smart with what’s in your bank account. So, when clients put in a cancellation request, it might be worthwhile seeing if they are interested in an alternative before processing the transaction.
Of course, not all clients are going to want to do this and some will demand their money back. However, others might be open to rescheduling. After all, they did trust you enough to make a reservation in the first place. Gauge this case by case as you get in touch with each one.
Alternatives to cancellations could be to offer up a spot on one of your tours scheduled in the future. Or it could be to pass on a travel credit that your client can spend with your business when they are ready. You could further improve the offering by adding in an extra discount to any of their ensuing travel plans.
If your clients do agree to reschedule, point out that this can be beneficial to you both. They will have future travel to look forward to, while you can maintain better cash flow. Provide reassurance that this is a great choice, you are here to stay, and look forward to offering them an amazing experience in the future.
Thank Your Clients
Your clients are the lifeblood of your travel business. So, when they do put their faith in you and decide to postpone or reschedule, don’t forget to thank them for their consideration.
Moving forward, keep them updated on the status of your business and/or tour. Relay any information updates accordingly, and don’t leave it too long to let them know what is happening. You want to maintain the sense of trust present between you.
Travel cancellations due to COVID-19 are happening, and travel companies should be prepared to deal with them.
Being prepared means understanding that cancellations don’t necessarily spell out the end of your client relationship. As long as you handle the process correctly, communicate effectively, and don’t cause unnecessary delays, travelers will be willing to return to your company in the future.
So, even though you part ways now, once the situation stabilizes, you will have clients ready to make travel bookings with your business.
Should you need any help processing cancellations and issuing refunds for your clients on WeTravel, get hold of us. We’re ready and able to assist.