It isn’t the summer anyone had planned. With the global picture still developing, quarantine measures returning and advice for would-be travellers changing almost daily, holidays have become one of the biggest commercial casualties of the pandemic. Learn about 5 ways to support travel businesses without travelling internationally.
Travel and tourism accounts for almost one in 10 jobs around the world, many of which still hang in the balance as the industry moves slowly out of its stasis. But gradually, hotels, resorts and hospitality brands are re-opening doors and establishing ‘new normal’ ways of working.
“We have had to dramatically change the shape of the company and the resources we employ, to cater for hotels that were running at 80/90% occupancy now running at 15% for the short-term foreseeable future,” says Brian Gore , VP of Brand, Marketing & Digital at Hotel Café Royal in London, part of the Butterfly Mark Certified The Set Hotels group. The Set’s Amsterdam outpost, the Conservatorium, is now back open for business. Plans are in place for Hotel Café Royal and Hotel Lutetia in Paris to follow in September – but not without a lot of careful preparation behind the scenes.
“The biggest change has been how we look after the safety and wellbeing of our guests and employees,” explains Gore. “To this end we have been working hard on creating ‘The Set Safe Stay’, a set of procedures and promises that we make to our guests so that they can feel confident when making a reservation or planning a visit to any The Set hotel.”
Although the future remains uncertain, there is hope on the horizon. Many sustainable travel companies believe positive change will follow this year’s hardship, as consumer priorities shift and the world embraces a slower pace of living.
“We hope that the trend of fast trips will end and that another way of travelling will prevail, with more control of our actions, and respect for the territories we tread on,” says Sara Sabina Sánchez Remacha, CEO of Butterfly Mark Certified Rusticae, a boutique hotelier with more than 300 properties across Spain, Portugal, Morocco and Latin America. She doesn’t believe the pandemic will kill our wanderlust in the long-term. “Travelling has always been part of the essence of the human being,” she says. “The eternal curiosity to know what lies beyond the last bend in the road spurs us on.”
The good news is that while we wait for the world to fully open again, there are plenty of ways to support the travel industry without leaving the country – or even the sofa. Here are five of the best.
“The best way to support hotels right now is to continue planning ahead and booking your travel as far in advance as you can,” says The Set’s Brian Gore. “While I completely understand that people’s plans are rather last minute at the moment, one of the big challenges we face is the uncertainty of what the short-term future looks like.”
Many resorts are now offering extra-flexible cancellation policies to protect travellers against last-minute disruption, while insurers are increasingly offering cover in case of covid-related cancellations. So booking a trip for later this year or early next year doesn’t need to be a risky move – and for businesses struggling to stay afloat, it could be a lifeline.
Buying gift vouchers is another great way to give businesses a financial boost, without committing to precarious travel plans. Most vouchers can be redeemed for at least a year, with many travel companies extending their terms to allow for all eventualities.
“We really appreciate our loyal customers helping us through these challenging times. Many are buying our Gift Keys, which can be exchanged for hotel nights in one year (and later expanded). In this way, they help not only sustainable tourism but also our hotels,” says Rusticae’s Sánchez Remacha. Meanwhile The Set is offering 20% added value on gift vouchers purchased now, which can be used for food and drink, spa treatments or future room bookings. What better gift could there be for a friend or loved-one than something to look forward to?
Support doesn’t always need to be financial. “The best way to support us right now is subscribing to our newsletter and following us on our social media, to stay up to date and start dreaming about the next unique, back-to-nature experience with us,” says Livia Manca di Villahermosa, founder and director of Butterfly Mark Certified Balance Holidays.
Digital engagement can be valuable to brands in raising their profile, beating the algorithms and reaching a wider customer base. Follow your favourites on social media and respond to their content with comments, likes and shares. Every click counts.
It’s no secret: we’re living in an age where strangers on the internet can make or break a business. Research by Ipsos Mori and TripAdvisor claims that some 81% of travellers now rely on online reviews to help them choose their accommodation. And as collective belts tighten and adventures are limited, we’re likely to be all the more picky about the trips we take in the near future.
So make time to leave glowing write-ups for your favourite hotels, restaurants and travel companies on sites like TripAdvisor, Google, Yelp, Expedia and Facebook. Be as detailed as you can, amplify good experiences and give business-owners a much-needed morale boost. There has never been a better time to spread a little positivity online.
It may seem counterintuitive, but staying at home when advised is the best way any of us can help beat the virus and reinstate the travel industry for good. As The Lux Collective’s Julian Hagger points out, “Our business is ultimately reliant on our ability to eradicate Covid-19. The best way now to support tourism is to take immediate action towards sending the virus to oblivion.”
While you’re staying local, support homegrown hospitality businesses instead. Whether it’s a minibreak at a nearby resort, dinner in a local hotel or signing up for an immersive outdoor experience like foraging or kayaking, becoming a tourist in your own back garden is a great way to stimulate regrowth in the industry and recharge your own batteries.
With the green light from the government, Balance Holidays will be hosting its Reconnect and Rewild at Yorkshire Estate Retreat in September. Centred among 3,000 acres of rolling Yorkshire countryside, the nature-based programme of woodland walks, forest bathing, wild swimming and locally-sourced dining will allow guests plenty of space to relax and recalibrate at a safe distance. “I hope people will learn to appreciate the simple joys of being in the company of nature and human connection on their future travel adventures,” says Manca di Villahermosa.
Home seems as good a place as any to start.
If you want to connect with us, get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org. Stay well and stay positive.
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