In my 25 years in the travel industry, I’ve been through countless disasters and times of panic – 9/11, Zika, Y2K, West Nile, H1N1, swine flu, bird flu, anthrax, ebola. The truth is, something new can hit at any time. It’s how we handle ourselves during those times that make or break us. In fact, we’ve been able to serve our clients even more fully in times of crisis, and essentially create customers for life. Here are the most important actions that you can take to best serve your travel clients during a crisis.
Panic causes us to make bad decisions. Panic prevents us from thinking clearly, so we don’t 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. I’m not saying you can’t have fears or doubts, but don’t give in and let the panic control your life or your business. Focus on how you can serve your clients.
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. 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.”
Take it one day at a time.
Crisis situations are constantly evolving and changing. Take it one day at a time, one step at a time. Focus on what you can control and on what you know you need to handle, but leave the rest of it until you know how things will shake out a bit better. Don’t jump to conclusions and don’t panic. Be realistic and take it one day at a time.
Don’t stop marketing!
If you want to guarantee that your business will suffer during this time, then by all means, stop marketing and generating new client leads. That’ll ensure that your business will take a hit! (Please note the sarcasm here! Don't do this!)
It’s one thing to pull back and market in a way that takes the current climate into consideration – that’s an appropriate decision. To halt your marketing completely and let your business stall out is completely the opposite.
Never, ever stop marketing.
Marketing and lead generation is the lifeblood of your business. Without marketing, your business will fall flat on its face. It is much harder to get that ball rolling again than it is to keep going and keep pushing through. Remember…
Marketing = Leads = Profitability
It’s that simple formula that you need to keep in mind not only during these uncertain times but every day in your business. When times are uncertain, you need to increase your marketing, visibility, and expert positioning. Stand out from everyone who is panicking. You can build your business despite the hard times.
Many of the companies that we know now were funded and built during the last recession. Right before the 2008 recession, my husband and I had invested our entire life savings and a $150,000 SBA loan to start a new business. But we were determined that we would NOT be a statistic with the recession. We had to find a way to dig in and make it work. Over those 2-3 years, we built a six-figure business and grew it to be one of the biggest of its kind in the U.S.
You can grow and build your business through a crisis. It doesn’t have to kill your business – you just have to take a step back, breathe, and make a plan to keep going. If you can be successful in an environment where everyone else is failing and everyone is telling you that you will fail, you can do anything. Learning through the bad times will make you more successful in the good times.
Educate your clients.
Keep them up to date, be supportive, keep their best interests at heart. Actively work to help them before they reach out. Ease their fears and their uncertainties during this time. Be their hero. Not only will you reduce the stress for you and for them in the long run, but they will remember this, they will come back, and they will refer others to you. I promise that being their hero and advocate will reward you in so many ways down the line. It will transform your business.
I encourage you to keep building your business. If you are thinking of starting a travel business right now, don’t postpone it. Keep going. Remember:
Fear is a reaction. Courage is a decision. – Sir Winston Churchill (attr.)
You can react to the situation, or you can make the conscious decision to keep going and keep building. If you are courageous, you are putting the energy out into the Universe that you will make it, you will be successful, and nothing will stop you. 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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