Travel is going to make a comeback. When it does, will your group be ready?
The events of the past few months have taken us all by surprise. And although nobody can predict exactly when, at Select Traveler we are confident that #TravelAwaits.
When the world opens up again, many people will be anxious to start traveling, including some of your members and customers. So instead of sitting still and staying quiet during this season, why not use this time to prepare for the trips your group will take in the future?
The work of restarting your travel program doesn’t begin once restrictions end — it begins now. Here are five things you can do now to set your program and your members up for success.
Keep in Touch
The purpose of your affinity program is to foster relationships with your members, and that doesn’t have to change just because travel is suspended. During this time of uncertainty, relationships are more valuable than ever, and you can use this opportunity to strengthen them. You should regularly be communicating with your members through e-newsletters and social media posts. And consider reaching out personally to your most important customers through phone calls or video chats. You could even set up a virtual happy hour or other social gathering for your members using Zoom or another videoconferencing tool.
Continue Talking Travel
Travel will resume eventually — it’s only a matter of time. And there will be a fair amount of pent-up demand among people who love to travel. You can help stoke that demand by continuing to talk about travel, even while it’s suspended. You should already be communicating with customers about the status of trips that they’ve booked. But in addition to that, talk about other trips, too: Share memories and photos from great trips your group has already taken, and spread ideas about places you could go in the future. You can find some helpful resources for these communications on our #TravelAwaits page at grouptravelleader.com/travelawaits.
Plan an Introductory Outing
Given the unprecedented nature of what we’re experiencing, some of your travelers may be a bit gun-shy about getting back out on the road. You can help allay their fears by planning shorter trips to nearby places. These should be the first outings you offer after restrictions are lifted. You can work with CVBs or tour operators now to build evergreen itineraries that can be easily rolled out once travel is safe to resume. Then operate those trips to demonstrate to your other members that your program is hitting the road again — even if only a handful of people sign up. Some of your travelers may be more comfortable with a group of 12 to 15 than one of 40 to 50.
Rely on Your Partners
As you restart your travel program, it will be more important than ever to work with trusted partners to operate your trips. Although there may be some advantages to planning your own tours, in this environment the liabilities outweigh the benefits. Professional tour companies and cruise lines have many resources that you don’t, and they’re constantly monitoring the horizon for potential challenges. If complications or delays arise with an upcoming trip, these professional travel partners will go to great lengths to protect your investment and ensure the safety of your customers.
Commit to Making an Impact
Your group’s travel has always had a positive economic impact on the places you visit. But now more than ever, people are realizing just how important that impact is. You can help inspire people to join your trips by reminding them how much their spending will help front-line workers at the hotels, attractions and restaurants you visit. Or go one step further and arrange some voluntourism projects or charitable gifts in the communities you travel to. Your group’s generosity will be much appreciated, and your travelers will love being part of travel’s comeback story.