As we begin to dig out of COVID-19, many group organizers are grappling with how and when to restart their programs. Inside this issue we introduce Bounce Back Tours, a new cooperative effort with 17 unique destinations that are ready to welcome back you and your travelers.
While these destinations are ready, are your travelers? Research shows the majority of Americans are ready and willing to start traveling again this year, but they have lots of questions as to how that looks. As their fearless leader, your objective should be to ensure a safe and successful return.
This is not a “flip the switch” exercise, but with advance planning you can successfully reboot your group travel efforts and get your program back on track. Here’s eight tips to help you along the way.
- Think regional. With so much uncertainty, it’s best not to venture too far from home. Where can you get to in a day’s drive? Hit the wide-open spaces. Not just state and national parks, but beaches, lakes and rivers, mountains and forests. We’ve all been holed up and are itching to reconnect with nature.
- Think small. Deliberately suppress your load factors so people don’t feel overly crowded. This may affect your profits, but travelers will appreciate it and should be willing to pay a premium for more space.
- Establish safety protocol. Set policies on cleanliness, social distancing and masks. Be clear about it so everyone who travels with you knows what to expect.
- Add exclusivity. Talk to attractions about exclusive entry. Private dining rooms are sitting idle, use this to your advantage. Hotels are currently below 40% occupancy so public spaces shouldn’t be packed.
- Over-communicate. Use email, social media, your direct mail list and in-person get-togethers to answer questions and get people excited about traveling again.
- Vet your vendors. Hotel chains have rolled out enhanced cleaning protocols. Restaurants and attractions are adhering to social distancing guidelines. Motorcoach carriers have implemented enhanced cleaning standards. Understand these polices to ensure they align with your comfort levels.
- Shop local. Wherever possible, support locally-owned business. Many of these businesses are really struggling and your revenue will greatly improve their chance of survival.
- Have fun! Remember through all of this that travel is an escape that takes us away from our mundane lives back home.
Remind your customers of the excitement you’ve had on previous trips, and alongside “new normal” protocols, you’ll be on your way toward a smooth journey.
Jeff Gayduk, Publisher