Resiliency. That is the word that we, as tour operators, need to focus on in these trying times. The tourism industry is resilient, but only if our focus is on bouncing back. Control the controllable at this time, all while doing your part to flatten the curve.
So, how can you control the controllable right now? Well, to begin, you can stay informed. We want you to have all of the information about the resources available to you at this time and we want to provide you with creative ways to keep profits coming in.
There is no doubt that the tourism industry is getting hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic, it is important to realize that we are not alone. Now is the time to look into small business loans. According to the U.S Small Business Administration, you may be eligible for the Paycheck Protection Program.
Along with economic help from the Small Business Association, there are plenty of things you can do to stay active in your community. The decisions you make right now will help better your outcome. There is immense community influence to support small/local businesses, so how can you play into this with your business?
- Support your community and advertise this to your customers for them to support you in return.
- Are you able to use your equipment in some way to support deliveries of other local establishments that are offering delivery options? (beer growlers, food, supplies, etc...)
- Be humble enough to ask your customers to consider reschedule rather than being refunded. Asking makes us vulnerable, but it also shows courage when you are open about your vulnerabilities.
- Provide incentives for customers to re-schedule.
- Encourage your customers to lock in 2020 season rates for 2021 dates.
- Some local businesses are starting GoFundMe campaigns.
- Provide some free options to bring relief to your local community and they will remember you and come back for more.
- If you are in the rental industry, can you deliver your equipment?
- Offer a portion of your proceeds to local schools that needs to help students gain access to remote learning resources or maintain their food distribution for students that are on meal plans.
- Can you offer a virtual experience to your customers? A live performance of your activities? A virtual tour of your facility? A willing employee or customer to capture their fun on a GoPro that you can stream on your website and social media channels?
Travel restrictions and cancellations are at an all time high. While people continue to defer their vacation plans, start thinking about all the plans that will be made for travel once the world has bounced back. Begin to run promotions and specials for those who are looking to book now, even if it is for far into the future. Make sure your booking and waiver signing process is equipped to handle the volume that you might encounter when travel starts to resume.
Restaurants, breweries, and local shops are finding creative ways to deliver and advertise their business. While we understand that it is a bit more difficult for tour operators to implement these strategies, the idea of a partnership with these businesses is very much available. Go around to businesses near you, assure that the target market is similar to yours, and find ways to influence their customers to consider booking an activity with you. Maybe that means when someone orders takeout from a local restaurant, they are gifted with a coupon for one of your activities. Maybe it means that you are working with them to create specials that advertise both what they are selling and what you are selling. Get creative!
Finally remember, you are not alone. There are thousands of companies out there going through the same thing. We have said it before and we will say it again: resiliency is SO important right now. It is time to join forces with those around you, walk hand-in-hand, and survive this together.