Are you ready to ride the “silver wave”?
Experts are forecasting a movement of older Americans who, now that they are fully vaccinated against COVID-19, are set to begin traveling in droves this summer and fall. Since they were among the first to be vaccinated, they have also been among the first to begin booking travel again. And this means a wave of opportunity is about to wash over the group travel community.
The silver wave promises a return to business and even profitability for many travel organizations. Here are five essential steps to take in order to ride the wave back to prosperity in 2021.
Reset Your Thinking
A year is a long time, long enough to create new routines, habits and thought patterns. And in the year-plus that the travel industry has been dealing with pandemic conditions, many of the protocols and processes we first thought of as temporary have firmly entrenched themselves in our minds. While that’s understandable, it’s also dangerous because a tentative, wait-and-see attitude will hold you back from riding the wave of travel’s return. While the pandemic dominated our collective minds in 2020, it’s time now to reset your thinking to a mindset of post-pandemic prosperity. Stop dwelling on risks and start pursuing rewards.
Refine Your Messaging
Recent studies have consistently shown a huge demand for travel, especially among consumers who have been vaccinated. But many people are tentative to book the trips they want to take because they’re unsure about what the travel experience will be like. To ride the recovery wave this year, you need to cut through the confusion with strong, clear messaging: We are traveling. Don’t emphasize restrictions and safety measures in your communications because everyone already knows about masks and hand washing. Instead, highlight the great experiences your trips will offer.
Resume Your Marketing
Most people like to research and book major trips at least a few months before departure. That makes it critical to get your ads and messages into the marketplace right now in order to inspire people who are looking for fall travel opportunities. If you wait until public health authorities officially declare the pandemic over, you will have waited too long and missed the window of opportunity. If your newsletter or email campaigns have fallen dormant, restart them now with an offer for a specific trip that your potential customers will be eager to take.
Restart Your Sales
When the pandemic hit, many organizational leaders pressed pause on their sales efforts, especially travel sales. And though that decision was understandable a year ago, today is different. To ride the silver wave in 2021, you need to start actively selling. Start a person-by-person campaign to reach out to existing customers, especially the ones who are eager to travel. If you have a sales staff, get them busy making these calls. If you don’t have a sales staff, start making sales calls yourself. Many of your potential customers are simply waiting for you to invite them to book a trip.
Rebuild Your Itineraries
If your go-to trip itineraries were created more than two years ago, they’re probably out of date and inaccurate. So it’s time to create new itineraries that put a spotlight on great travel experiences that are now available. Check in with your destinations and suppliers to make sure the information you’re publicizing is accurate. If this will be your first tour since the pandemic began, consider a shorter trip to a destination close to home to help your customers ease back into travel.