Coronavirus – How Travel Businesses can Limit the Damage


Coronavirus - How Travel Businesses can Limit the Damage

The recent Novel Coronavirus outbreak is causing much disruption amongst the travel industry, and as a result new challenges are being presented daily to businesses operating in this sector. Currently the UK government is advising against all travel to Hubei Province, as well as all but essential travel to the rest of mainland China. While some countries in Asia and further afield have announced travel restrictions for those who have recently been in the Hubei Province or mainland China, some airlines including British Airways and Virgin Atlantic have revised their schedules and suspended some flights to and from China. Other key updates in the last week include:

  • American, Delta, and United Airlines have temporarily suspended all flights to mainland China
  • American will stop flights immediately through March 27th
  • Delta and United will suspend service starting on February 6th
  • All three carriers have waived change and cancellation fees for China-bound travellers until the end of February
  • Several China-based online travel agencies and American hotel chains, like Marriott and Hilton, are offering free cancellations or changes to bookings

Coronvirus - How Travel Business Can Limit The Damage

CLIA Announces New Screening Procedures for all Member Cruise Lines

In addition, health screening procedures are being carried out on arrival in many countries.

CLIA’s ocean-going member cruise lines have also agreed to adopt enhanced screening measures, as well as several new boarding denial policies and 24/7 onboard professional medical help. All ocean-going member cruise lines were expected to have implemented these measures by 09:00am EST / 3:00pm CET on Friday 7th February. For more information please head to the CLIA website.

How to Best Manage your Communications, Reduce Risk of Customer Loss, and Minimise Financial Damage

Whilst the CLIA are taking appropriate measures to communicate key crisis information to its member cruiselines, it’s crucial you, as a travel company, take ownership and ensure the necessary information is sent to your customers. Personalisation has never been more important at a time like this, where any changes or updates to travel must be specific to whom you’re informing. Your communications must be relevant, informative, and timely, in order to minimise the risk of further upset for those who already have to deal with the stress of cancellations - and limit the financial impact this may have on your business. Already one member of the European Tour Operators Association has reported 2,000 cancellations, while many others who form part of UKInbound trade association lack the finances to survive.

"Some members might go out of business before this clears up. There are some with desperate cash flow problems, they’re just not getting any money in."
Joss Croft, CEO UKinbound

The Importance of Accurate Information that’s Sensitive in Nature

Kyle Haughton, Managing Director of City Cruises also stresses the importance of looking after all Chinese visitors, to minimise the risk of them receiving a negative reaction from other customers. To achieve this, and avoid misinforming customers, travel companies across the board must focus on providing accurate information that’s equally educational and calming about the relatively low risk of the bug being transmitted, or causing death.

Many tour operators are advising customers due to travel on an affected route, to keep up to date with the latest information from their travel company or airline. And to contact their airline, travel company, port authorities or local health authorities for further information – so it’s imperative that you have up to date and factual information to communicate. Additionally advice such as that provided on the NHS website will offer your customers helpful information such as how Novel Coronavirus is spread, the symptoms, and how to avoid catching and spreading germs.

By creating highly personalised, informative communications that engage with each customer on an individual level, you can not only improve their experience by reducing frustration and consequently avoiding bad publicity, you can better protect your brand reputation.

Want to start rapidly delivering the essential information your customers need in the event of a crisis? Get in touch with us today to find out about CrisisComms, our communications platform built for your most challenging crisis communications needs.

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