Travel industry and all related businesses face unprecedented challenges these days. Brussels and the whole planet is shut down and nobody really knows how will the world of business look like after the crisis. In this article, we share some tips for travel industry and running a business in times of COVID-19 by Zoran Pejovic. Zoran is a prominent hotel development specialist, entrepreneur and public speaker – we hope these lines about communications and visibility can offer some direction or inspire new ideas in these quiet times for both small and big businesses.
Coronavirus disease, the virus pandemic and the symbiotic fear pandemic, is an unprecedented global event that is about to bring the developed world to a halt. Nothing similar has ever happened in our lifetime. Nothing will ever be the same. Things will get back to normal one day, but it will be a new normal. Embrace this information. Become aware of the new and developing context. Be mindful of your position, but also of the positions of others. Everybody, literally everybody you know is facing uncertainties about their health, business and job prospects, and the future in general. Don’t deny it, don’t overreact, embrace it, understand it. Read the official statements, read scientific journals, read research papers, practice social distancing and social media distancing, because both can be deadly these days. Afterwards, take time to think.
If you are a hotel or a travel agency, tour operator, travel designer, destination management company or a restaurant, you are facing an insurmountable challenge. Closed borders, cancelled flights and zero business. Take time to think.
Very few tools are at your disposal now, but you are not without a voice. One of the most important questions right now is how to communicate your message to the world?
You want to keep your visibility, and that is important and understandable. I think you should make yourself visible but be very smart about it. I think it is the right thing to continue using the social media to a certain extent, but use it to promote the importance of mental health, promote life in small communities if you are in one of those, tell the stories of local heroes and support the efforts of people who are putting everything they know into solving this crisis. Or else tell a dream. Tell a heartfelt story.
Perhaps you might feel an urge or get a directive to address the world with an official statement. Considering how the situation is changing by the hour I am not very supportive of these type of communication tools. Instead, pick up the phone and call your most important stakeholders. Talk to people. It feels great. You might learn something new; you might tell them something that they did not know. Anyway, it is way more personal and valuable. Call them again.
Then again, I am being inundated daily with messages from CEOs and PR specialists from companies from all over the world showing how much they care about me, how much they understand my predicament, how much they care about their employees and how we are all going to bounce back one fine day as if nothing has ever happened, or how are we going to be stronger than ever, just this time with dolphins swimming up the Venice canals. Even in these situations, most of the companies are falling back on the corporate language. So, please, if you are one of those that I listed above, a small hotel, or a large hotel, you are in the travel or tourism industry, please drop the corporate language. If there ever was the time to not copy and paste and regurgitate the same messages just for the sake of sending them, it is now. It is way better to send nothing right now, than to send half a page of corporate cacophony that says something but nothing at the same time. Nobody really reads that. Why send it then?
However, if you are ready to send something, keep it short, honest and to the point. There is no recipe on what to say really. Perhaps you can tell people that you are hurting. You can ask for help. You can offer help. Whatever you say, make it your own. You built that business, you have been running it for years, guests trusted you, your partners trusted you. Trust them now with your openness and sincerity. Honesty is the best policy!
If you are sending mass emails to partners, guests or others please do not add your owners or CEOs headshots to them. Also, do not try to make it funny, or add to the panic. Most importantly, do not spread misinformation and fake news.
Afterwards, take time to think! And then clear your mind!
What are your tips for travel industry and running a business in times of COVID-19? You can share your opinion with us – get in touch via our contact page. You can also connect with Zoran via LinkedIn.