Just like many industries, the travel and tourism sector has hugely struggled during the past few years and is still in a recovery phase but proceeding with caution in the following months is definitely something that many travel business owners have in the back of their minds.
With this backdrop, we asked Jonathan Wall, Elman Wall Xeinadin Group’s MD and Xeinadin Travel’s sector specialist his top business tips when it comes to the next 6 months and how SMEs can navigate the months ahead.
Jonathan highlighted that one important overarching point is the fact that each part of the very fragmented travel industry sees the situation differently and that there is no ‘one size fits all’ approach. For example, incoming tour operators receive more bookings from US groups and individuals when sterling is weak, and outbound tour operators and their passengers have to deal with higher costs in the US. In volatile times there are both threats and opportunities and the Travel Industry has always been extremely resilient and has managed to keep a sense of perspective and reality through all the hard times.
Let’s have a look at Jonathan Wall’s top tips on navigating these times:
Are you selling the right product to the right people?
Holidays are very important to consumers, now perhaps more than ever. All the stats point to wealthier demographics being willing and able to spend more on holidays and take more holidays than those on lower, fixed incomes who have a lower budget allocated for holidays. If your target consumers are those on a lower or fixed budgets, is there anything you can do within your business to pivot that and look at offering products for higher income consumers? As a business owner, you would need to look at what could be ‘easy wins’ in this situation.
Are you sharp enough?
Are you making sure you’re capitalising from all the product add-ons? Are there any other products that you can upsell so you can maximise the revenue and give the customer everything they might need for their holiday? This way, customers are also less likely to go to other suppliers or providers to buy these products.
Be realistic & make cuts where you have to
There are huge supply chain issues with hotel chains, with fuel prices for planes and ships and undoubtedly there are resource issues at the moment. Not only that but there are staff shortages within various industries, including Travel. Other supply chain issues will result in higher prices so holiday costs will surely rise.
On the back of Covid, businesses are as lean as they’ve ever been, but they’d also have to look at making cuts where they can. It’s an emotionally painful process for most and for some, there might be a case of not having anything else to cut but there might be areas that can be evaluated in this aspect, especially if you’ve noticed a slide in your bookings. All businesses have been in crisis management and damage control for such a long time and the most important aspect of this exercise is to be realistic with all aspects of the business, including forecasting. It’s about having the resilience to see everything through and then make sure you are in the best position to grow.
Look at your technology
Is your technology cost-effective or is this an area of your business that would need improvement? Have you done any research on available technology within the industry that can save you and your staff time and money? With technology constantly evolving make sure you keep updated with cloud-based tech available – it might just be that one new piece of software could replace a few that you already have, hence saving you money in the process. Some pieces of technology can also improve the way your employees work, making them more efficient.
Look at your staff requirements
With all the cuts that were made during covid, do you now have the right people doing the right jobs? We know of many travel companies who now have the wrong mix of talent, and who need more help in certain key areas, with overcapacity in other departments. Can you upskill and retrain people? Does everyone have a positive can-do attitude?
Are you taking advantage of every opportunity?
Look at how effective your marketing is and if there is a better and more cost-effective business model you can apply.
Are you analysing the effectiveness of your marketing efforts? Are there ways of refining your strategy and could you cut back the costs that don’t bring a healthy ROI?
Make sure you’re taking advantage of every opportunity and always be ahead of the game by keeping your eye on the next step. Try not to be complacent, look forward so that you can come out of this stronger and in a more resilient place.
Last but not least…
“The confidence of business leaders shapes how their business goes.”
How our travel & tourism experts can support you
If you’d like to chat with our expert, friendly advisors about how we can help make your travel business more resilient, please get in touch and we’ll be happy to discuss how we can support you.