How can the naturist travel industry pick itself up from the impact of Coronavirus? And what lessons can be learned for the future?
In the past few months, the world has had to get used to a new variation of the C-word: Coronavirus.
It’s an unprecedented situation, unlike anything any of us have ever seen in our lifetimes. Or want to see again. The impact on the international travel industry (naturist and otherwise) could be catastrophic, as every aspect of travel - from transportation and accommodation to border controls and insurance - is likely to change from hereon. And not necessarily for the good.
The months of March, April, May and June were effectively wiped from the tourist calendar in terms of deposits, revenue and future bookings. With travel restrictions slowly being relaxed and many people - bored with self-isolating and having had very little to spend their money on for several months - will hopefully be desperate to get away for a holiday, thus partly salvaging what remains of the 2020 summer season.
If that is so, are you geared up to take advantage? Here’s a quick action plan:
1) Re-confirm, as soon as you can, any bookings for July onwards. If clients are still reluctant to commit, what terms and conditions apply? The last thing you want is for somebody to block off dates, only for them to then cancel at a late stage, leaving you unable to sell them to anybody else. A room night is the ultimate perishable commodity: once the date is gone, it has no value.
2) Don’t necessarily expect that you will be able to hold your high-season prices as you would in a normal year. July, August and September (if you’re in the northern hemisphere of course) are the prime months for summer business, but anybody willing to travel will be expecting to pick up a late-booking bargain. Make sure you have a series of attractive promotions and discounts at the ready, and the ability (by short-lead time means such as social media) to publicise them. You might also have to look closer to home (i.e. your domestic or neighbouring country market) as the airline industry takes time to recover and re-group.
3) With cash flow badly hit by loss of revenue in the Spring and early summer, it might be tempting to slash your advertising and promotion budgets. Don’t. It would be very short-sighted. Business WILL come back, you need to maintain a high profile in what has for some time been a very competitive niche market, and long-term bookings, for later in 2020 and into the following year, will ensure your survival and sustained viability. If people don’t see that you are still in business, they might simply assume that you are not.
4) Take the current crisis (not to mention enforced inactivity) as an opportunity to plan for the future, and possibly even re-think certain aspects of your business model. Have you been doing anything wrong in the past that you have been meaning to change, but have ‘never had the time?’ Are there ways of extending your season? Targeting a new market? Upgrading your product offer?
5) The more optimistic (or possibly idealistic?) of social commentators believe that Coronavirus might be a wake-up call for the world, and we will emerge from it as better inhabitants of the planet: more socially responsible, more environmentally-friendly, healthier, more in touch with ‘the bigger picture’ of life and less concerned with materialism. If so, the naturist travel industry should be perfectly placed to benefit.