As I pen this column, the travel industry is facing unprecedented challenges from the ongoing spread of coronavirus across the globe. What started as a regional problem in China has mushroomed into a worldwide pandemic, as declared by the World Health Organization. This is a rapidly moving target and by the time you read this, the situation will be much different than it is today. Having gone through two significant shocks to the travel industry – 9/11 and 2008, I’m using history as my guide to predict future results. And while we don’t know how long the recovery will take, we know there will be one.
Our responsibility as tour planners, industry suppliers and publishers is to focus on the recovery. Our customers have been walking around with a dark cloud over their heads, or worse yet, sequestered in their homes. That should give anyone the incentive to get out of town.
We’ve seen in previous travel recessions that travel tends to come back regionally, then nationally, then internationally. From a planning perspective, this might require you to rethink your previous strategy and adopt a new approach.
What else? Deals! Sure, some suppliers and destinations will try to make up for lost revenue by overinflating prices, but if you’re selective, there will be deals to be had and your customers will benefit from your buying power and negotiating skills.
There’s a saying, “In good times you pull it from your pocket, in bad times you pull it from your heart.”
One thing I know, people across the travel industry have huge hearts and are passionately devoted to helping their customers explore this beautiful world we live in. If I’m going to put faith in anyone, it’s you and your peers.
Together we’ll get through this.
Jeff Gayduk, Publisher