From entertainment to hospitality to real estate, most industries have taken and will continue to take an economic hit due to the COVID-19 crisis. It’s also true that these industries have the potential to rebound even stronger by the time we get over the hump, just as they did after 9/11, the SARS epidemic, and the Great Recession.
We can’t change what’s happening, and that can be scary—but we can use this unexpected space to make sure we’re ready for the moment we all touch down again.
I spoke with Heidi DeCoux, founder of Marketing For Travel Agents, to see how her clientele are faring amidst this pandemic. Heidi has seen the travel industry get hit hard more than a few times and offered up some smart tips on what every business should do before the economy bounces back.
1. Build Deeper Relationships
“We talk a lot about the know, like, and trust factor when it comes to our customers and clients. In a time of anxiety and uncertainty, this takes on an even deeper meaning,” says DeCoux. By creating genuine, closer connections with your audience in uncertain times, you’ll be able to develop a pipeline of prospective customers, as well as referrals to other opportunities for the future.
To do this, imagine what your customers and prospective customers might be going through right now, what they might need, and what could be of real service to them. This is a chance to design specific, thoughtful offers (free and paid) that will show people you’re paying attention, you care, and you are solution-minded.
“I know how hard the travel industry had been hit and how stressed and fearful my community of travel agents were feeling so I reached out to them with a free downloadable marketing blueprint and a free interactive marketing masterclass (held online via webinar) that walked them through the blueprint and answered their questions,” notes DeCoux. “I offered both of these business-saving freebies to my audience of more than 35,000 travel agents, and I also used Facebook ads to share them with travel agents who weren’t yet in my circle. I got a chance to build a know, like and trust relationship with them (and capture their emails) which may lead to working together in the future.”
2. Spring Cleaning Your Systems
Be honest now: think of how many times in the last few years you’ve said to yourself, “We really need to get organized, but everything is just too crazy right now.”
“A slowdown offers that much-needed space to reevaluate your processes and procedures,” says DeCoux. Identify places where momentum gets slowed or where you might be spending money you don’t need to be spending. Set a time, solo or with your team if you have one, to evaluate in-depth how your systems are flowing - or not - beginning to end. Notice any bottlenecks that get in the way of clarity or productivity.
With all the changes, you may need to write up a policy on remote working. You might need to revisit your Standard Operating Procedures for how you take clients from start to finish. Or you could focus on re-writing templates for emails that go out. Or maybe you realize you finally have time to switch up your filing system or habits for analyzing your financial flow.
“Getting organized will save you time in the future and help you keep your finger on the pulse of your business’s financial status, which can save you money in the long run,” advises DeCoux. “Also take time to notice what doesn’t feel right for you or your business anymore. Let go of what’s not working. For example, are the social media channels you're spending time on all delivering ROI for your business? Could you scale back your efforts to free up time and energy for revenue generating activities?”
3. Upgrading Your Marketing Strategy
What worked a few months ago, may not be relevant now. “That gorgeous marketing strategy you spent weeks refining? It probably isn’t going to work in a pandemic. Not only does crisis change business, it changes us,” DeCoux notes. “Like you, your clients are looking at radically new realities. They’re asking hard questions. They’re facing challenges around finances and homeschooling and health and what the future holds. They’re wondering if they need to re-arrange their lives and their priorities—not just during the pandemic, but after it, too.”
So — what are some ways that you can adjust your strategy to fit this new reality? Here are a few of Heidi’s ideas:
With these three business moves and some creativity and innovation, you can successfully navigate this time of upheaval and come out even stronger. You’ve got this.
Read more from Forbes
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