When crisis hits, as it does on a regular basis in different shapes and forms, what steps do you take to ensure business continuity and survival? In the travel business, and particularly in the meetings, events and incentives travel industry, planning is done well ahead of the date of travel. Sometimes years ahead of the event. This makes it all the more heart-breaking, and financially devastating, when events that have been planned and worked on for months or years are cancelled at the last minute due to a world crisis or unforeseen disaster. There is little that can be done, except advise everyone as soon as possible, cancel what can be cancelled, and hope that suppliers and partners are fair and just when it comes to deposits and refunds.
The next step is to ensure that non-vital associates take whatever holiday is due to them, before looking at redundancies and time off without pay. Reduction of costs and short-term savings are vital to ensure business continuity, but should not be at the cost of future business, and possibly losing valuable team members.
Review upcoming events, and see if they need to be rescheduled, revised, or cancelled as well.
One area you should absolutely NOT cut back on is forward planning and marketing. Unlike advertising, which is instant, and invariably expensive, marketing adopts a softly-softly approach and relies on content creation, sharing of information, and ensuring your product or destination remains top-of-mind in your target market. Hibernate during a crisis at your peril. Your competitors will move into your space, and into prime position to take advantage of future business potential. Certainly, your messaging during times of crisis should be respectful and appropriate – maybe even subdued, but you should not disappear from view.
Take this time to review your marketing and promotion activities. Can you reach people in different ways? Is there support you can offer, as a business, during the time of crisis? This is not the time to make a quick dollar, but more to build your community, your visibility and awareness.
Stay positive, stay visible and stay engaged with your community, whether near or far. Ensure only verified facts are distributed via your marketing and social media channels; and above all, stay professional.
If a trade show has been cancelled, as ITB 2020 has been at the 11th hour, look at different ways of ‘meeting’ with those with whom you had appointments. Why not schedule a Zoom meeting? Send them an invitation with a link! Face to face chats, with document sharing and the ability to make your presentation without even leaving your desk. This crisis will pass, as every crisis before it has done. It may change the way we do business, or the steps we take to ensure the health and well-being of future event participants, but use it as a learning experience and see what positives you can take out of it.
Step up your digital marketing and social media presence. Update your website, work on your database, your online identity, your strategy and messaging….. look at the enforced ‘down time’ as a blessing, enabling you to complete those desk-bound administrative tasks you never seem to have time for.
During any crisis, your team will be looking to you for guidance and advice. Make sure you are correctly informed, that you look for the positives, and that you continue to plan for the future. Build on the lessons learned from this particular crisis, and update your crisis planning and business continuity planning so you are ready for the next downcycle, whenever and however it may hit.
World of DMCs are still planning for IMEX 2020 in May (Frankfurt) – so hopefully we will see you there!
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