You have undoubtedly been keeping up with the media coverage and articles surrounding the recent outbreak of coronavirus (COVID-19). It is unclear exactly how much the travel and tourism industry will be affected, or how long this will continue, but it is clear that this industry is resilient and will bounce back stronger than ever. In the meantime, it’s important to consider how our industry can adapt to the current circumstances and prepare as much as possible.
We want all of you to know that we stand alongside you every step of the way and, as always, remain committed to best-in-class service and support! Beyond your support system at FareHarbor, we’ve gathered the following tips to help your business and customers during this time.
1. Encourage Local Tourism
Even though we’re seeing a decrease in international travel, you can still run your tours and activities by encouraging local tourism and incentivizing local customers to book with you. Reaching out to your community is a great way to keep operations up and running, especially since there is no travel needed for local guests to participate.
Drive bookings by offering a discount to people who might be looking for local gems they haven’t discovered yet. Invest in your local marketing initiatives rather than those that aim to reach a broader audience to better allocate your resources. Consider taking out advertisements in area newspapers, posting on local online directories, or targeting specific areas with Facebook ads or other social media campaigns. You can even get creative and hang flyers in places like restaurants, bars, bus stations, and parks.
2. Get Ahead of Cancellations
There will inevitably be customers looking to cancel their reservations during this time. Make sure you are prepared to handle the influx and have a process in place. When possible, always try to offer a credit or rebooking over a refund. You can utilize gift cards as a form of credit that will allow customers to book whenever they want in the future, while you keep the revenue.
Most importantly, when it comes to cancellations surrounding these extenuating circumstances, make sure to be understanding and flexible when working with customers. It hurts to lose out on reservations, but providing your customers with a positive experience makes it much more likely they will want to come back in the future.
3. Provide Clear Communication
Although it may seem best to reduce communication touchpoints at times like these, it’s actually important to continue providing clear communication with your existing and future customers. This can be in the form of emails to upcoming reservations explaining the status of your operations, or making sure your cancellation policies are buttoned up and updated in all locations on your website and book form.
You can also incorporate communication through your website, including announcement banners, informational pages with updates, and blog posts. Consider including things in your communication like the status of your activities, steps you are taking to ensure the safety of customers, as well as how you plan to handle future cancellations and rebookings.
4. Band Together
Collaborate with other local operators in your area who are likely going through the same situation you’re facing. When multiple operators in a particular region or industry work together, it can boost the entire region and the local economy — A rising tide lifts all boats, as they say! You can even support each other by signing up for the FareHarbor Distribution Network to easily resell local operators’ tours.
We hope these tips will help you prepare and adapt your business practices during this economically challenging time. Please remember that the health, wellness, and safety of your employees and customers should always be your top priorities. For further updates on the current coronavirus outbreak, please check the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and World Health Organization (WHO) for the latest news. As always, don’t hesitate to reach out to us at FareHarbor for additional support.
Our partners at Arival have put together a brief survey to help understand the impact the Coronavirus is having on you as operators, as well as what steps are being taken to respond. If you would like your voice to be heard during this challenging time, please fill out this survey.