MAKE SURE YOUR BUSINESS STAYS ON TOP
The corona (Covid-19) pandemic hit hard globally, right at a time when everyone expected their businesses to blossom. The World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) predicted that the travel sector would downsize up to 25% due to the corona outbreak and that countries with tighter travel restrictions will experience an even bigger drop. Even though Spring and the coronavirus made a back-to-back appearance this year, it’s important to keep in mind, now more than ever, that springtime is and always has been the time for hope and renewal. Using this time to think in terms of “how to refresh my business” instead of “my business is wilting due to corona” will help ensure its survival and even allow it to thrive during this difficult time.
Many business owners have reached out and shared personal stories of lost revenue, a decline in profit and a general fear of the future, with the virus adding a layer of uncertainty over many industries. With changes occurring at this rate, we feel it’s more important than ever to monitor the situation and support our partners as they weather this furious storm. We at LuggageHero are of course facing our own challenges as a start-up in the travel-tech industry. But we are truly optimistic for the future and are focusing on using this time to strengthen what we can so that when travel is back — which it will be — we will be not only ready but even ahead of the game. Therefore, we have outlined 10 industry tips that have helped us and we think will help you organize your thinking and responses in order to better prepare for the return of demand when the outbreak subsides.
1. TURN CRISIS INTO OPPORTUNITY
Looking back to the SARS outbreak in 2002, a prognosis recovery tells us that due to suppression of customer demand, industries will experience concentrated demands after the epidemic. This proves that industries dependent on travel are resilient. It’s important to stay positive and optimistic that businesses will rebound from this crisis as they have in the past. For now, it’s important to stay calm, choose to think strategically and see this crisis as an opportunity for your business to grow. Use this stagnant time to look for solutions that will help you stay in the game while implementing the following practices.
2. FOCUS ON THE LONG TERM
Focusing on the long-term goal and how your moves will impact customer satisfaction in the long-run is crucial in every business. Comparing difficult periods to prosperous times has proven to be counterproductive. Instead, think long-term decisions and plan strategically! Imagine a date a year or five years from now and ask yourself, where do I want to be after the corona crisis settles? Without being able to envision in your mind, it will be even more difficult to plan and move ahead, in this case, get through to the other side of the coronavirus situation. Make long-term plans by creating a table with growth, profit, service and mission as your subtitles and then writing down all your relevant ideas in an organized fashion. Instead of staying in your comfort zone and being satisfied with “short-term,” think “lasting-legacy.”
3. FOCUS ON CHANGES IN CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE
With mobility restrictions in a world going into partial or complete lockdown, the culture of sharing has all of a sudden become forbidden, while ‘no touching’ is a sign of love and care. In light of this new culture, the restaurant industry, for example, should coordinate its resources and adapt to the situation while guaranteeing service quality. Eateries might want to offer personal serving spoons for contactless delivery or serve single-size portions only. Ask yourself what customers need during and after the epidemic. The answers will provide you with practical feedback on how to adapt your business to better suit those needs. Once the epidemic is over, it’s quite possible that customers will focus more on safe, reliable and nutritiously-rich food choices. Thus, try to rely on quality of ingredients and careful handling of food in order to fulfill consumers’ expectations. Expanding to catering service or online ordering and delivery are other superb options for hotels as well as for grocery stores and shops in general. Offering a delivery service instead of shopping-in-public only is a great way to support effective control of the epidemic while maintaining your business.
4. TARGET DOMESTIC TRAVELERS
Closed borders for international tourists have caused a shift in travelers’ plans and desires. By summertime, it’s predicted that local travel will be the thing, at least initially. Naturally, domestic travel will feel safer after the corona times and thus, vacationers will become “staycationers.” Partnering up with local tourist sites and offering packages and giveaways that not every hotel in the area can provide could be the key to running your business during times when flight cancellation rates are at their highest. Offering specials and packages could change someone’s mind about cancelling their stay. Businesses could also make additional revenue by catering to the locals now more than ever before. Hotels can offer “breakfasts-to-go” or “boxed meal delivery” for the local community. And lastly, providing packages to foreign tourists stuck in the city, like free-breakfast deals or offering a third night for free are great ways to make income while still providing excellent service.
5. DON’T CUT BACK ON MARKETING
Many businesses cut back on the marketing budget or get rid of it completely once they feel the hits of an economic stagnation. Instead, owners can use this corona period to consider marketing approaches. Tough times are actually the times businesses need the most marketing. This is also the time to accelerate development of online sales and promotions, whatever your industry. You can use this time to perfect your copywriting skills with the help of fabulous apps and webs such as the Hemingway app, Coschedule Headline Analyzer and Answer the Public. With the coronavirus’ “stay-at-home” effect, people are online more than ever, checking updates on the virus, working from home or simply communicating. Customers are now on a real-time lookout for what’s out there and you want to make sure they see an excellent representation of your company. Due to this, your website, marketing materials and ads should be looking their best. You’ll be at an especially competitive advantage right now, which is a perfect time to attract the audiences you want. By using Google Adwords, a free advertising system where you bid on keywords that get you right on Google’s search results, you can target entire countries, cities or locations or aim at domestic audiences. Here are 3 simple ways to improve your SEO data ranking. You can also strengthen your marketing strategy with Supermetrics Google Data Studio, a wonderful platform that directly pulls marketing data from 20+ sources to the Data Studio. Google Analytics is another powerful tool at monitoring your website traffic and here are 3 effective ways to use Google Analytics.
6. COMMUNICATION OPENS DOORS
Initiating conversation about the coronavirus situation gives you a better understanding of how people are dealing with the situation individually. Open communication in companies has proven to lead to better team results and a stronger team atmosphere, especially in times like these. As more employees are working remotely in response to the spread of Covid-19, it’s important to use a conferencing software that’s efficient enough to support more participants like Google Hangouts Meet. This software/app allows for online meetings for up to 250 participants per call, live streaming for up to 100,000 viewers within a domain and the ability to record meetings and save them to Google Drive. What’s more, it’s offered free(!) until July 1st 2020 as a way to support businesses and help employees stay connected and productive during the corona crisis. Communicating with your customers and showing them that you genuinely care also gives them the impression that your business is alive during this difficult time. Receiving their feedback will provide you as the owner with greater insight on their needs right now, as well as future plans for when all of this is over. Having this information can help you see what you need to change or focus on within your company in order to better suit your customers. It is also advised that business owners be present and interacting on social media, whether for promotional purposes or to share personal insight. You can make use of existing platforms to enhance interaction with customers with one-way notifications or two-way interaction through surveys with Google Surveys, for example. Open communication opens doors in all directions.
7. BE STRATEGIC WITH PRICING
This is time to monitor your competitors’ prices and act accordingly which allows you to adjust to swift changes on demand. You can continue to do this by keeping an eye on cancellation patterns in order to offer proper discounts or adjust room prices. With reduction in air travel now more than ever, promoting attractive “parking packages” could entice drivers and people planning road trips to choose your hotel over another one. Focus on offerings that make your customers either make or save money. This gesture, of hack if you will, will leave your customer coming back, especially after the coronavirus situation. Although you want to adapt to the given circumstances, be wary of diversifying and focus on what you do best. Adding products or services without thinking them through can pose a waste of time and money. Instead, think of how you can productize some services, like offering a digital course, an e-book or anything that can be purchased online.
8. QUALITY ASSET MANAGEMENT
Since many businesses have had to completely close due to a lack in cash flow brought on by the coronavirus, some owners have considered selling the properties or using this time to renovate and polish up their locations in order to enhance competitiveness once the situation is back to normal. This is also the time to optimize asset strategy and enhance asset competitiveness. Dropping your retail rate isn’t recommended and retail rate should be used as a benchmark for discount rates. If cutting costs is needed, make sure it is done in areas that have least impact on customer service, quality of goods and the company image. Try to add value without losing standards. If prices need to be brought down, set a limit that does not handicap your business. If you’re in the hotel industry, consulting with respective advisory groups such as EHL Advisory (Hospitality Industry Consulting) can also come in handy during uncertain times like these. They are vetted to assist you with post-crisis recovery and provide you with solutions to nurture your brand. Connector by Design Connected is a digital asset management software which allows employees to share the same asset library across the team, which is very important in times of social distancing. They’re offering a 6 months free trial for teams of up to 5 users.
9. PRIORITIZE HYGIENE
With coronavirus at its peak, you can create additional revenue and strengthen the “safe image” of your company by taking care of the hygiene of the premises. Using cleaning products specifically vetted to fight against the new coronavirus is needed more than ever. The need for deep-cleaning finally has its moment and investing in cleaning products at this stage of the virus has never been a better idea. Use this time to show your employees as well as your customers that you care about their personal health while supporting cleaning services and taking care of the environment on a global scale. Focusing on the switch in customer perceptions by strictly following HAPPC promotes the importance of hygiene and what it means to you personally as well as on a business level. If you are using this time to renovate and polish up your company premises, you can use raw materials to create a safe environment and a global-friendly image.
10. ALWAYS HAVE A PLAN
Regardless of what awaits, having a plan is crucial. Being prepared how to respond to uncalled for circumstances is equally important, even something that you can implement within minutes. Staying calm and looking for solutions instead of panicking is the key to excellent management. It’s advised to always keep personal credit in good shape. With a good personal credit history, you stand a better chance at being able to borrow money or receive that grant when needed to keep your business running. If an industry functions well pre-corona, it has a great chance to prove itself as resilient once the crisis is over. All it takes is a refreshed mindset, the ability to adapt and implement strategic ways to optimize your business. Or in the wise words of Deepak Chopra, “If you surrender to uncertainty, nothing goes wrong.”
Remember, a beautiful lotus flower grows in muddy waters, and so can your business!
Oh, and don’t forget to please wash your hands!
If you want to start making extra revenue in your local businesses, sign up to become a LuggageHero here.