For many travel advisors, what they should be doing once they’ve finished the seemingly endless task of taking care of clients affected by the coronavirus is arguably not top of mind—at least not currently.
“Priority No. 1 right now is on guests and making sure we are getting them canceled or rebooked to later dates,” said Hannah Nowicki of Sunset Travel & Cruise. “But when that dust settles, I believe we will be looking to the future.”
For Nowicki, marketing strategies will be a prime focus.
“Marketing will be big because we want to remind clients—both past, present and prospective—that we are still here, ready to book when they are. Because of what we have seen with online travel agencies (OTA) during this time, and the mess that it has been, I think we will see a much larger group flocking to local travel agents.”
She added, “We want to be ready for them when they do seek us out. This means continuing to have our name/brand out there. We will need to be easy to find when the time comes for people to start looking again. Taking advantage of marketing now will be the key to that.”
Meanwhile, Ryan Doncsecz of VIP Vacations Inc. said the agency is hoping to offer a ‘Top 5 Favorite Thing’ campaign “about specific hotels we have traveled to recently [with] honest, quick, easy and visually appealing reviews we can post places—but also use for potential clients who may be interested in that specific hotel.”
For advisors who are proficient at video posting, “now might be a great time to [create] some future pieces you could share with your clients on social media,” Doncsecz said.
On a similar note, Trish Gastineau of Simply Customized Travel said she has noticed “that people are much more open to new ways of social networking, [including] the use of video chats, group virtual cocktail parties and virtual dance parties.”
For her part, Claire Schoeder of Elevations Travel is taking the opportunity to touch base—voice to voice and through email—with her customers.
“I am reaching out to clients to simply chat. We have spoken about family, self-quarantine and our future travel plans,” she said. “We have shared our concerns as well as some laughter about our efforts at keeping entertained while housebound. Travel is about relationships, and visiting with my clients by email or phone helps our relationship remain strong.”
Similarly, Nowicki noted that Sunset Travel & Cruise would continue to conduct client outreach.
“This is a difficult time for everyone in general. So taking the opportunity to simply reach out to past and present clients (whether or not they have canceled, rebooked or whatever) is important—not only as travel advisors but as human beings,” she said. “We are all in the same turbulent boat. Reaching out and showing we care could make all the difference, not only now, but well into the future as well.”
Travel advisors and suppliers are also continuing to support one another.
“Travel advisors and travel partners are doing their best to encourage each other and check on each other’s mental and physical well being,” Gastineau said. “That is a beautiful thing. I see people going out of their way for each other. I see the travel community bonding even more.”
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