So the crash happened... The pandemic is spreading and the only option to control this mayhem is to stay home and wait. What could we tell the world of travel that would be more crippled than “Stay home”, "Don't go anywhere", "Isolate yourself". Outside of the travel industry, many other service-based positions are being asked to stay home; except them staying home means they don’t work. At a minimum, the bright side to working as a travel agent, means you are completely flexible. If you’re not flexible, well, that’s another story, but for most of us working at home, the coffee shop, or a local restaurant is part of our daily grind. So now that we’ve identified a little ray of sunshine in our lives, what can we do with it?
Among any time in history, communication and control the narrative is of the utmost importance. This is why we as a company have strived to help our agents succeed providing one spot they can access all supplier commission and cancellation policies. This is why the POTUS is having daily meetings with the public, communicating more details about Covid19 progress. This is why, we as an industry should toughen up and look toward the future. So what does that mean? As I began developing this series, I couldn’t get past the fact that while maneuvering through the steps of building a "perfect" business, we have an unusual opportunity. I don’t want to come off as uncaring or oblivious to the fact that many people are scared, sick, or hurt, but from a business perspective, there is no better time to increase the efficiency, content, and schedule for our communication plans.
As most of you could find out with a quick Google, big box travel suppliers are fleeing for their lives! They have hit their customers in the stomach with poor cancellation policies, long hold times, and a complete lack of awareness in responding to the current situation in the world. So what does this have to do with communication? Now more than ever, WE have a voice that can be heard. Stories are coming daily about how the travel industry needs help, bailouts, and infusions of money. If we come together and create a loud voice in our marketing and communication, and show people how amazing we all were during the cancellation frenzy, and how we are still working hard for our clients, the guy who booked with Costco, will soon book with you.
So how should you create an awesome communication plan? Let’s walk through a few ideas on how to communicate to your current and perspective clients.
As mentioned above, now more than ever, you need to be heard. Think about creating a communication campaign through an email marketing company. If you don’t currently use one, try Mail Chimp. Mail Chimp is an email platform used to schedule times of communication for any client list you upload. You can create customized emails to communicate with your clients. Ask them if they are safe, how their families are handling this crisis, or if you can help them with any travel restrictions so they don’t get caught out in the chaos. Continue communication once or twice a week with best practices and create a weekly update with travel restrictions. Being in front of them now will be important when this is over and they decide to travel again.
Don’t be afraid to build your communication list by reaching out to social media, friends, family, and others letting them know if they’d like updates, you can send them emails about the latest travel restrictions. Build an email list to use during this crisis and continue using it as travel restrictions lift and people start booking travel.
Be a Star
You’ve been hard at work! Let people know! I have watched a handful of agents constantly post about their bookings on social media, letting everyone know where they booked their latest client. At the end they tag, “If you’d like to travel here or there, hit me up!”. These agents have grown, won agency awards, and have shined as a travel agent. DO THIS. However, even in a cancellation phase is also a great time to shine. Each client that you have helped cancel, write up a small post about how you waited on hold, or spoke to the supplier on their behalf, or helped them get some amazing refund beyond the typical cancellation policy. Even though you may not believe it, people want to hear about the good and wonderful things you are doing! Showcase yourself and let people know they missed out when they didn’t book their latest trip with you!
These are just a few small things you can do, to set yourself up for success. Get out there and SHINE!