Communicating in a crisis is never easy. But it’s especially difficult when leisure travel is completely off the table. In the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, many travel advisors are having to reconsider their social media strategy.
No one wants to be perceived as tone-deaf or as flaunting their privilege — a criticism some Instagram influencers are currently facing.
Furthermore, most advisors see the product they’re selling as aspirational and joyous. Many don’t want to spread doom and gloom, even if they’re personally struggling.
It’s completely normal to feel anxious about what to post, and it can be healthy to take a break from social media from time to time. At its best, though, Instagram — and social media in general — can be an effective way to connect with those you can’t see in real life right now.
If you’re feeling ready to reengage with the industry colleagues, clients, supplier partners and prospective clients who follow you on Instagram, perhaps these posts by fellow advisors will provide you with ideas on how to share new information, provide solace to your followers and inspire future travel.
Mourn the Loss of Travel
Travel advisor Susie Chau (@carpediemtraveler) shared with followers where she would be traveling on her babymoon right now. Lamenting the loss of her Miami trip, she gave everyone permission to express their feelings regarding their own travel losses.
“You may feel bad or selfish feeling this way when there are more serious — literal life and death — problems to worry about,” she said in the caption. “But it’s okay to grieve the loss of travel.”
Another advisor, Blaire Kochar (@bpktravel), grieved her Italy trip in a successful attempt to relate to her frustrated clients.
“I understand it’s frustrating to not be able to travel right now,” Kochar said in her Instagram post. “I understand rescheduling your dream trip is not ideal. I understand that it’s hard to commit to future travel because you aren’t sure when this will end.”
She capped off the message with a reminder that her clients’ satisfaction is her No. 1 concern — and that’s why she’s been working around the clock to make sure clients receive the refunds, postponements and more they deserve.
Build Community and Offer Expertise
TravelPro Theory (@travelprotheory), the professional development resource by travel advisor Heather Christopher and travel supplier Kate Thomas, has been — as per usual — leveraging its community through Instagram Stories.
Sharing the results of fill-in questionnaires and daily polls, TravelPro Theory (TPT) has been undoubtedly easing anxieties by crowdsourcing answers to questions with no playbook, and highlighting partners who have saved the day. TPT’s consistent Instagram Stories featuring Thomas’ expertise, creative solutions (such as setting up a Zoom call about social media strategies) and frank delivery have been a welcome respite in all the chaos.
This is also a great time for independent contractors or those adjusting to working from home to share advice about how to be productive from their kitchen table.
In one post, travel advisor Andrea Espinosa (@andrea_doestravel) shared five of her top tips, including “create a comfortable inspiring workspace, have set hours and try to stick to it as much as you can.”
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“Our wings are clipped at the moment, but we will fly again.” Hope Smith Starting this Monday from my home office, feeling full of motivation, gratefulness, a desire for growth and to be of service during these trying times. Here are my 5 WFH TIPS FOR A PRODUCTIVE WEEK: 1. Create a comfortable inspiring workspace, have set hours and try to stick to it as much as you can. 2. Use a prioritizing list/time block for me badging certain tasks and assigning a specific amount of time to work on them without distractions has been key. 3. Set breaks to stretch, breathe fresh air, drink water and regroup! 4. Personal development is an important part of my life & business! I encourage to add this step to your daily routine. I love learning about new destinations, expanding my knowledge through in-depth training, staying up to date with industry publications, classes, webinars, and certifications. #knowledgeispower 5. "ME" time set boundaries and know when to shut down to enjoy life + the perks of working from home. #cheers Tell me, how is your quarantine going? Are you able to work from home?
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The advisors behind Epperly Travel shared their strategies for working from home with a simple, eye-catching infographic.
Reveal Behind-the-Scenes Moments to Show Value
If there was ever a time to lift the glamourous jetsetter curtain that many advisors work behind, this is it. Without the reward of the luxe trip that is born from all that planning you do, prospective clients — especially those who have never worked with an agent — can now appreciate your career for what it is: hard, detail-oriented and sometimes thankless work.
Travel advisor Brianna Glenn (@briannaglenn) shared an honest look at what her last few weeks have looked like, evoking images of working overtime to cancel trips and to advocate on behalf of clients.
“From here on out, if anyone is ever struggling to understand the value I bring to the table, I can simply say “Google ‘Cancel Costco trip during COVID-19,’” Glenn said in the caption.
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No lie, this week feels almost like a vacation for me. Haven’t checked my email yet today, took a long walk and put my toes in the sand, and chances are I’m not waiting til 5 o’clock anywhere to get my party started. ⠀ 🍹 🍸 ⠀ The past two weeks, I worked my tail off — and never have I ever worked so hard TO LOSE money!!! ⠀ 🤪⠀ But it reminded me how important it is to understand the core values of my business, and always have that be the guide. ⠀ 💓⠀ Money is not my main motivator (thank God or I’d be screwed!! Lol)⠀ 💰 ⠀ So having to work around the clock to postpone trips, cancel flights, sit on hold for hours on end, and be the advocate my clients needed me to be was a no brainer. ⠀ 🕰 ⠀ From here on out, if anyone is ever struggling to understand the value I bring to the table I can simply say “google cancel Costco trip during COVID-19”. ⠀ 🎤drop⠀ ⠀ In all honesty though, I feel good. I’m proud of the way I’ve shown up for my clients and how I’ll continue to help them navigate this season. And I am certain that this will make me and my business stronger. ⠀ 💪🏽 ⠀ ⠀ Please someone give me a virtual high five!⠀ 🖐🏾 ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀⠀ ⠀⠀ #socialcurator #coronavirus #quarantine #femaletravelbloggers #milkandhoneytravels #bucketlisttravel #traveldesigner #travelexperience #bespoketravel #authenticexperiences #luxurytraveladvisor #virtuosoagent #travelagent #alifealive #liveadventurously #glitterguide #darlingdaily #communityovercompetition #photosinbetween #purposedriven #thatauthenticfeeling #chooselovely
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Travel advisor Beth Hill (@mangatatravel) took a similar approach with an image that captured her on the phone. As she explains it, she was “either on hold with an airline, consoling a disappointed client who had their dream trip canceled, explaining cancellation and rebooking policies or just enjoying some client conversation.”
Explain Why You Took a Break — and What You’ve Learned
Travel advisor Sheena Dersidan (@iamsheglobal) took a pause on Instagram for a few weeks and came back to the platform with a heartfelt direct message to her followers explaining why she took a breather, what she’s been personally grappling with and how she plans to use the account going forward. Like so many other Instagram users that focus on travel, Dersidan felt unsure if she should continue to post her brand of colorful, uplifting images of her travels given the current climate.
Utilizing IGTV for her longer video message, Dersidan added that she realized that her dose of positivity might be what’s missing right now.
“It’s my way of being the light in the dark,” she said in the video. “I am going to continue to share travel stories, amazing destinations, stories of connection — all the beautiful things that make me love this amazing world and everyone in it.”
Keep Dreaming, but Make It Personal
Advisor Chelsea Martin (@passporttofriday) has no shortage of aspirational travel photos and videos. She has spent the last few years personally vetting numerous luxury properties and destinations, and meticulously capturing these places for her followers.
In an Instagram post, she acknowledges that she’s acutely aware of and sensitive to the current situation, but that she will continue sharing the travel content she’s worked so hard to collect — because it’s meaningful to her and reflects her desire to spread positivity and spark interest in traveling the world.
“While I was supposed to be in Italy right now, I am not looking at what ‘currently could have been’ but instead focusing on what I am excited to go back to,” she said in the caption. “Italy is the first country in Europe I ever went to when I studied abroad in Firenze in 2013 (the next two photos are from one of my first nights there!), and living there is the experience that changed the trajectory of my entire career.”
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While I was supposed to be in Italy right now, I am not looking at what “currently could have been” but instead focusing on what I am excited to go back to. Italy is the first country in Europe I ever went to when I studied abroad in Firenze in 2013 (the next two photos are from one of my first nights there!), and living there is the experience that changed the trajectory of my entire career. It is the first place I lived outside of San Diego, the place that truly taught me independence, the joy or art of doing nothing (“la dolce far niente”, which I am now trying to re-learn how to do 😂), patience, and the importance of a good meal with those you cherish most. Over the next few weeks/months/however long, I am going to be sharing moments in my travels that spark fond memories from all over. My Instagram has always reflected positivity, as that is how I choose to lead not only my account but also my life and business, and while I am incredibly sensitive and acutely aware of the current state of the world, I hope that my content can serve as the getaway so many of you have asked for during this time (from the comfort of your homes, maybe with an Aperol spritz + a classic Italian film on) 🙏🏻 #luxurytraveladvisor #iloveitaly #whereidratherbe
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Share Your Favorite Travel-Related Media
You’re not the only one who has seen their screen time stats rise. Folks who are lucky enough to work from home and self-isolate are open to receiving media recommendations — so, do like fellow travel advisors and suggest books, films and articles that will educate travelers on new destinations, and eventually inspire them to travel.
It’s OK to share non-travel picks, too; a good recommendation also gives followers a reason to relate to you and to trust your judgment for other items.
Travel advisor Heather Keller shared a few recent reads with followers looking for “different escape options.”
Ready Others for the Comeback of Travel
It’s certainly not business as usual right now, but spreading a positive message about the comeback of travel — and what the return of travel will mean to you, your business and your colleagues — is a productive way to inspire folks to dream about travel.
At TravelAge West (@travelagewest), we’ve been interviewing industry leaders and travel advisors and have been sharing our favorite quotes on our Instagram page. These quotes share a common optimism about the future and about the resiliency of travel.
We’ve seen many advisors take this approach with memes that advocate postponing over canceling, or inform about how travel affects the economy (for example, there’s an infographic that shares how the travel industry employs 1 in 10 people).
This is a great time to pay it forward and support supplier partners, too.
Along with tagging numerous suppliers, travel advisor Jennifer De Luca (@luxuryadventuretravel), acknowledged that while we should all follow our government’s instructions around quarantine, self-isolation and social distancing, we should keep dreaming and planning future travel.
“When the time is right, I ask that you support the travel industry again — we need your help,” she said in the caption.
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We Need Your Help! The @luxuryadventuretravel page is my platform to share travel inspiration, tips or unique facts about destinations and experiences. Today I would like to share a message… Right now, the world is in a situation that we have never seen the likes of in most of our lifetimes. Lives have been changed, some for the short term and some for forever. The travel industry has come to grinding halt which leaves lots of companies and their staff watching and waiting to see what will happen with CoVid19. The companies that we partner with help our travellers experience destinations all over the world, which in turn support the local communities. Companies like @crooked_compass @peregrineadventures @abercrombiekent @gadventures @intrepidtravel support all types of local business and tourism initiatives. They help communities to rebuild, educate and become sustainable. Travel changes lives for the greater good. Expedition cruise companies like @hurtigruten @quarkexpeditions @lindbladexp @scenic.eclipse support the environmental efforts in polar regions and far flung islands like the Galapagos. We have our partners in Africa @andbeyondtravel @timeandtideafrica who support our endangered wildlife and have a voice for animals that don’t. And then there are the airlines, like our national carrier @qantas that take travellers where they need to go, who alone provide over 30,000 Australians with work. It is estimated that the travel industry now supports around 10% of the world’s jobs. As you can see with travel on pause it has a knock on effect around the globe. Right now, the best thing you can do is follow your governments instructions around quarantine, self isolation and social distancing. But what I am asking is that you keep dreaming and most importantly planning your future travel. When the time is right I ask that you support the travel industry again – we need your help! I would like to say thank you to my affiliated agency @mtatravel for the support and assistance that they have provided all of their members and travellers at this time. I would also like to acknowledge @virtuosoltd - I am proud to be affiliated with such amazing companies.
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Read more from TravelAge West about the COVID-19 outbreak.