5 Tips to Deal with a Crisis as a Travel Agent

Apr 9, 2024 | Marketing, Operations, Service, Travel Business

Discover essential strategies for travel crisis management in this insightful blog post. Learn how to stay calm, informed, and proactive during turbulent times to effectively serve your clients and safeguard your business. Gain valuable tips on client education, marketing continuity, and maintaining resilience in the face of adversity.

Originally posted April 2020, updated April 2024.


With more than 25 years of hands-on experience in the travel industry, our founder Cyndi Williams has weathered numerous crises, from 9/11 to Zika and beyond.

What all of these encounters have in common is that they underscored the importance of resilience and strategic action. Because the truth is, something new can happen at any time and as travel agents, it’s how we handle ourselves before, during and after a critical situation that can make or break us.

Given this, today we’re walking through the key strategies Cyndi has used in her own agency (and what we teach to all our students) so you can effectively serve your clients, even in the face of adversity.


Don’t panic.

Panic causes us to make bad decisions because it prevents us from thinking clearly. It doesn’t allow us to slow down, assess the situation calmly, and form a plan to fix the situation. If we give in to panic and don’t think through our choices, we can hurt the long-term viability of our business.

This doesn’t mean you can’t have fears or doubts (those emotions are what make us human!). What we’re saying is to not give in and let the panic control your life or your business. Think about it- would you want to work with someone in charge who is panicking? We doubt it. You would much rather prefer someone who is cool, calm and collected. Instead, focus on how you can serve your clients best, right now.


Get your information from a reliable source.

There is a lot of b.s. information out there, and most of it can throw us into a major tizzy if we let it. Be informed in a way that doesn’t focus on the media hype. Your job is to inform, not stoke the fear. A great place to start is the WHO website and CDC website. The CDC's risk assessment section is consistently updated and can keep you up to date on health crises.  Be realistic and pragmatic, but don’t let your world be clouded by scarcity, panic, and the “what-ifs.”


Educate your clients.

In times of crisis, maintaining open communication with your clients is a necessity. Keeping them regularly updated is a great way to show your support and commitment to their well-being. You can also proactively address their concerns and uncertainties before they even have a chance to voice them, serving as their trusted guide.

This is an opportunity to showcase that you are the travel expert and advocate that will help them navigate this stressful time. You’ll not only alleviate their stress in the short term but also sow the seeds for long-term loyalty and referrals. This builds a lasting impression and ensures clients not only return to you but also recommend your services to others. Embracing the role of advocate for your clients isn't just a business strategy; it's an approach that can elevate your entire business model, leading to sustainable success.


Take it one day at a time.

In moments of crisis, adaptability is key. Embrace a day-by-day approach that focuses on actionable steps within your control while resisting the urge to speculate or panic. You can prioritize tasks based on their immediate impact while allowing for flexibility to adjust strategies as the situation evolves. When you maintain a realistic mindset and address immediate priorities, you can navigate the evolving landscape with clarity and resilience.

Don’t forget to take care of YOU. It’s easy to get caught up in the stress of a crisis. That doesn’t mean you should forget about taking care of yourself during these times. Remember- “you can’t pour from an empty cup”. That means you need to take some time for yourself to fill your own cup! Take a walk, remember to eat, take a bath- do what you need to do so you can better show up for your clients.


Don’t stop marketing!

Marketing and lead generation are the lifeblood of your business. And without a proactive marketing strategy, your business risks stagnation and eventual decline.

Remember, the equation is simple: Marketing = leads = profitability.

During periods of uncertainty, it's essential to continue with your marketing efforts so you can enhance visibility and establish yourself as an industry expert. You can even showcase how you have helped people during times of crisis, which is a great differentiator since some big box agencies are known to turn off their phones during critical situations. You provide a valuable service during times of need, and this is just another reason why clients should book with you and not just on their own! That is something worth sharing and marketing!

However, this strategy doesn't imply blindly forging ahead without acknowledging the current climate. Be mindful of your messaging and adjust it if needing.

It is possible to grow your business during a crisis. Clients always return to travel after a crisis (and travel vendors may even offer some post-crisis incredible offers). You just have to take a step back, breathe, and make a plan for the downtime. If you can be successful in an environment where everyone else is failing or telling you that you will fail, you can do anything.


At the end of the day, we hope you remember: You can react to the situation, or you can make the conscious decision to keep going and keep building. Energy and mindset are huge factors in your success. By making the decision that it will work out, you have put yourself on the right path.

We know that it can be hard to deal with a crisis as a travel agent, so we’ve created a free Crisis Communication Checklist to help you manage your communications with your clients in turbulent times. Click here to download it now!


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