At Unwrapped, we’ve seen the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic first-hand as our partners swiftly stopped transporting travelers, emptied their rooms or closed their doors. But after the initial mayhem and chaos, we’ve been trying to make the most of this period, focusing on product enhancements and talking with our customers to help them through this tricky interlude.
It’s important to remember that there will be a day after tomorrow (though we’re pretty sure it won’t be anything like Roland Emmerich’s 2004 masterpiece), and that travel will return! The only questions are when and what it’ll look like.
We’ve put together a series of actionable tips for how you can use this downtime wisely and prepare your business to make the most of the post-COVID era:
Domestic travel will become a key opportunity for kickstarting your business as the COVID-19 pandemic subsidies. The travel market is likely to take some time to regain momentum, and it’ll be awhile before we see international travel on the scale we’re accustomed to. Firstly, this is down to the travel restrictions and border controls enforced by hundreds of countries around the world. One fifth of the world’s population are currently living under some form of lockdown, notably in some of travel’s largest markets – across Europe and the US. Countries will lift their restrictions slowly, first allowing greater movement within their borders, before opening up again to inbound and outbound travelers. In addition, it’s unlikely that all countries will act in unison—expect a period of inconsistency where rules and regulations vary. Secondly, travelers will be tentative. After months being cooped up in their homes, and having learned social distancing as second nature, it’s likely that travelers will avoid venturing too far afield, instead choosing to stick to familiar destinations or even locations within their home town or city.
Know your future travelers
Think about the traveller types who will develop within this domestic market, and how your business can attract them. Staycation packages can lure eager couples to re-experience a luxury hotel stay, complete with exploration of a new neighborhood or district. Similarly, families separated by these lockdown restrictions will also want to reunite. Expect to see a surge of weekend trips across your country, and think about how you can cater to these travelers during their stay.
Engage your existing customers
With your treasured customers stuck at home, there’s an exceptional opportunity to inspire them to book a trip with you again. Or at least, remind them you are alive and kicking, waiting for them once this all ends. Think about what makes your property and local neighborhood special, and take them on a virtual tour, straight from their bedroom.
Develop out of the box propositions
This disruption to inventory and sales has led to lower prices and unique opportunities across the market. Michelin star restaurants that previously boasted year-long waiting lists will now be desperate to fill their tables. Piecing together these traveller opportunities for your guests will help you to stand out in a crowded market.
Think creatively and build packages that combine transportation, stays and unique local experiences that’ll allow your future customers to dream of their trip whilst still under lockdown. And of course, prepaid bookings like these will help to generate valuable cash flow that will see you through these tricky months.
You’re likely to have a considerable database of prospects as well as booked or cancelled customers, and they’d love to hear from you. Convert your cancelled bookings into rescheduled ones by reminding your customers why they booked in the first place, and help them imagine a future stay with engaging, curated emails. In addition, consider opening up additional channels to maintain interactions with your customers. Share a selection of your favorite local restaurants and cafes via Instagram, or footage of your properties or destinations via TikTok.
Maximize incremental revenues
Traveller numbers are not expected to return to pre-COVID levels until at least 2021, so it’s more important than ever that you maximize revenues from each guest or traveller. It’s a great opportunity to increase your offering of ancillaries (cross-sells and up-sells). Think about local experience providers who you can promote to your customers: it’ll save your customers time and help them have a great experience with you, all whilst earning you a healthy commission for your efforts.
We’re in this together
Although travel has been an early casualty of the COVID-19 crisis, it’s hard to find a business that hasn’t seen its operations impacted in some way by closed borders, enforced shutdowns and nationwide lockdowns. Across the world, small independent businesses—cafes, restaurants, bars, venues—have found themselves under enforced closure by their respective governments. Think about how you can work together with your peers to kickstart your local economy.
Any questions? I’d love to chat and learn more about how this situation is affecting your business, and what you’re currently doing to cope.
(As a side note, we’re offering complimentary inspiration guides to all of our existing and new clients, and I’m always keen to see how we can help other businesses in the travel community during these trying times. Sign up here.)