10 Tips For Tourism Business Recovery
By Renae Denny
As travel restrictions begin to lift, Regionality is looking at what tourism businesses in Australia can do in readiness for opening.
There’s no going back to the way things were. The pandemic has been a massive blow to operators, but let’s focus on the long term. Remember we’ve only hit the pause button, not stop, on operations. It’s important we are prepared for getting back to the new normal when it’s okay to take a holiday again.
We recommend tourism businesses take this opportunity to be proactive now, not reactive, when lockdown is over.
While there is a lot of uncertainty, it is most likely border shutdowns will boost interest in regional tourism and agritourism in Australia. As our aviation industry recovers, the old notion that air travel is accessible to all, is an idea of the past. Holiday makers are already looking at the value in visiting towns and regions closer to home and we predict this situation to continue for the next two to three years.
In the lead up to more easing of restrictions we highly recommend tourism businesses use the opportunity to:
1.Reconsider your product offering and who is your customer
Conditions imposed on us by Covid-19 have forced us to think more
laterally about the way we do business. When Airbnb was hit by the fall out of the crisis, it quickly refocused on frontline stays – offering housing to healthcare staff and first responders. Redesigning your product offering may be as simple as coming up with ways to continue business with reduced staff numbers. If you offer holiday accommodation you might invest in keyless entries and advertise longer stays for transient workers. Social distancing and hygiene guidelines will affect numbers of people on tours so you might think about how you can create more of a bespoke experience with a special interest itinerary. Border shutdowns will encourage tourism operations to adapt to domestic markets as opposed to international markets — so if you’re offering the Australiana experience, you’ll need to tweak this to suit the local customer.
- Take a good look at your bottom line
There’s never been a better time than now to recalibrate. Use this opportunity to reflect on your business and how it was being run. How would you like it to look post Covid-19? Were you happy with your business before the crisis? Was it making the profit you wanted? Put procedures in place that will discourage any waste. Review your resources; find out what your customers want. Think of ways to make cleaning practices more efficient and just as thorough.
- Review hygiene and safety
Look at all the different ways you can make people feel safer. Continue to work with your employees to able to introduce Covid-safe procedures into normal activities. When your customer knows they can trust you —and now, more than ever, this comes back to safety and hygiene— they will be more likely to return and encourage their family and friends to use your services and products. Limit certain activities to remain within social distancing regulations and consider appropriate areas to cordon off. Be very clear to your customers that you are regularly reviewing safety and hygiene procedures. Safework Australia is continually updating information on the best way to prevent the spread of the virus.
- Pivot your business to the domestic market — make visitors feel like locals in your region
It’s a great time to think about where your customers are coming from, post Coronavirus. Passionate Aussie travellers will be keen to start exploring their own country so become an expert in your area! Find out what the local secrets are and let your visitors in on the fun; you want to make your guest feel like a local. We predict lots of day trips, initially — visitors buying petrol, coffee, ice creams, burgers and fish’n’chips —then the return of the driving holiday with people looking for more experiences and accommodation for stays lasting three to four days.
- Organise staff training
Now is time to rethink how you manage the people who work for you. Review outdated systems and update old data bases. If you are incorporating the JobKeeper allowance, consider upskilling your staff. While employees may not be serving customers, perhaps this is the opportune time focus their attention on retraining or upskilling to improve efficiency and compliance. Tourism Australia’s popular Aussie Specialist Program has seen increasing numbers of travel sellers enrolling in the online course since lockdown began.
- Stay connected — review your website, get on social media
Communicate with customers, followers, suppliers and industry colleagues. Don’t go dark on social media. Consider posting video on Instagram or Facebook to show everyone where you’re at during Covid-19. Your online presence is more important than ever, so let your customers know you are still there, waiting for them. Ensure your website is working properly so frustrated browsers aren’t turned away by broken links. Keep website content fresh and relevant with new information: update customers about your evolving service or product. Your community wants to know what you are doing and social media is an excellent way to keep the connection. Post information about your products and services. Keep people dreaming about their next trip in your region.
- Look at your value offering
Holiday makers will be ready to move as soon as they are allowed. It will be baby steps at first, remembering many won’t have the money to spend on long trips. Visitors evolving post coronavirus will be looking for an authentic experience in your region – they’re looking for worth in time and money. Go out of your way to show them you much you appreciate their custom under the guidelines of social distancing and hygiene. Visitors are your guests; don’t make them feel like a number.
- Watch Webinars
There are plenty of webinars for business owners. Tap into the information out there and stay informed. Firstly, check out the Tourism Australia Coronavirus Webinar Series .
- Reach out for advice and assistance
Please ask for help! Local tourism and business organisations in your local networks will assist you. Everyone is in the same boat. We are here if you need us but there are other support services out there also. If you need assistance with finances contact Business Connect. Remember you’re not in this alone.
- Check out State Government online tourism resources
There are a number of regularly updated and highly informative online government resources. Destination NSW , Tourism and Events Queensland and the Victorian Tourism Industry Council offer links, tools and webinars to help business recovery post coronavirus.
Regionality provides a comprehensive range of regional and business development services supporting the tourism sector, farmers, individuals, organisations and communities in Australia. If you need to solve a problem or maximise an opportunity within your business, farm, community or organization, contact regionality www.regionality.com.au/contact