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In case you needed to hear it: I haven’t hosted a webinar, held a Zoom conference or started a social media campaign since sheltering in place started — and it is completely OK if you haven’t, either.
When I started my quarantine journey from the confines of my parents’ home, I thought I had it all figured out. I would spend the next few weeks — or months —getting my company TripKit’s name and brand “out there.” I was determined to use this time as a way to expand my business via the powers of social networking and online calls.
Or, at least, that’s what I thought I was supposed to be doing. Here is what I’ve realized since then.
Social Media Does Not Have a Place in My Business Right Now.I have felt an immense amount of pressure to be hyper-present on social media during the shutdown.
Since there are limited ways of staying connected to a global audience, my Facebook and Instagram feeds have exploded with activity from those in the travel industry. And this boom isn’t exclusive to our industry: According to The New York Times, Facebook’s daily app traffic increased 27% from Feb. 29 to March 24.
RELATED: Bookings May Be Down, But Client Engagement on Facebook Is Up
It was my immediate instinct to mirror marketing strategies that I liked or ones that worked for other brands. But, as you can imagine, it doesn’t make sense for an administrative service such as TripKit to host a webinar on Greek luxury hotels. I realized I was inhaling ideas I was seeing and trying to make them authentic to TripKit — and this was not the right direction.
All Businesses Are Different, So Their Marketing Strategies Should Be, Too. Instead of posting haphazardly, I realized the best thing I could do for TripKit was to put marketing on pause. And, yes, I know that may sound different than what the world of crisis communication tells us, but allow me to explain.
Each business deserves a marketing strategy that aligns with its goals, vision, mission and passion. TripKit’s objective is to help travel agents grow their businesses, and, quite frankly, it isn’t our place to do that while in the midst of a pandemic. After all, we’ve always strived to be authentic and lead by example.
So, I did something that every business owner should do right now: turn inward and reflect.
Sometimes, You Just Need to Go Back to Basics.Evolving and growing a business doesn’t happen overnight. It takes a lot of time and attention from all the stakeholders involved. While I am the first person to recommend reading and listening as ways to learn, time spent staying at home can provide an opportunity to analyze your business and identify its problems, opportunities, successes and failures.
For me, a SWOT analysis was much more informative than any generalized book or course. Sometimes personal growth doesn’t mean learning from others; it can mean learning from yourself. (But, in case you need a good read, “The Power of Broke” by Daymond John is apt for today’s circumstances.)
Location Is Everything.As the pandemic began to run its course and the impacts were growing more noticeable by the day, I stopped charging TripKit clients. I was acutely aware of how this crisis would affect travel agencies because of how much it was affecting fellow New Yorkers — even if my advisors in other parts of the country didn’t know it yet.
I firmly believe that location has, and will, impact the way our industry does business in the future. Italians have been on the frontlines of this pandemic, and Italy will likely pave the way for how we evolve out of it. Similarly, New Yorkers will hopefully help lead the way for how other cities evolve out of this crisis within the U.S. To loosely quote New York’s Governor Andrew Cuomo, “New York tough doesn’t just mean tough; it means compassionate, unified, loving and smart.”
Although clients located in your state may not be traveling anytime soon, travelers in other parts of the world might return to travel sooner. Remember to readjust your business back to its global scale; don’t limit it to your current 6-foot radius.
In This Industry, Business Is Personal.Since the travel industry was first hit by the COVID-19 pandemic, it has meant different things for everyone. I’ve spent more time with my family, adjusted my business model and took a pause from helping travel advisors grow their businesses.
So, do you need to be hosting an epic margarita night on Zoom? Maybe! But you may also be better off reconstructing your internal database and CRM system — or simply giving yourself a mental break.
However you choose to market your service, hotel or tour operator, don’t be afraid to socially distance yourself from the norm. Be authentically yourself.
Read more from TravelAge West about the COVID-19 outbreak.