How the travel sector can communicate to reassure customers

There are few industries which deal with chaos more frequently than the travel sector. Travel companies are prone to being on the receiving end of larger societal issues. In recent years they’ve contended with everything from international lockdowns to staffing and supply chain issues – leading to widespread cancellations and delays.

During any crisis or current situation, the best travel companies work hard to communicate with their customers to reassure them about the ever-changing situation at hand and maintain trust for the future.

It is vital for travel companies to communicate well with their customers at any given time, but even more so in the event of a crisis. Communicating proactively is critical during times of crisis and strong leadership is a necessity during times of uncertainty.

During the pandemic The PHA Group was brought on board by leading cruise ship company Fred. Olsen when the coronavirus first began impacting the travel industry. They wanted to maintain their hard-earned reputation as a caring, family-run business, despite the global challenges they were facing and the impact this was having on the business.

With customers stuck on board one of the firm’s ships we worked along side Fred. Olsen’s in-house team to communicate the steps being taken to get everyone home safely and address any concerns from the public and their customers.

Another client we supported throughout the pandemic was TravelUp, the leading travel agent. Their business had to rapidly transform overnight when flights were cancelled as a result of coronavirus. They diverted staff from sales to customer services to cope with the huge volume of refund requests. However, many airlines were slow in issuing refunds and TravelUp wanted to explain why things were taking longer than they would have liked. We successfully told their side of the story in order to maintain their reputation during a hugely challenging time.

What are the key steps you can take to ensure your travel brand is communicating effectively?

The first step to take during a crisis is to establish your key messaging. What story do you want to tell? How do you want to tell it? It is important to shape this narrative and work out the most effective way to communicate what you want to say.

Perhaps you want to reassure customers that you are still open for business. Or perhaps there have been some challenges over the last few months you want to explain. You will have experts within your company who are well placed to comment on these issues and the media can provide an effective conduit for you to communicate these key messages.

The job then is to decide where you want to be seen and heard. What are the best titles and the best platforms for your business to comment? It is critical to select the right media outlet (s) based on which of your stakeholder groups you are looking to reach and which outlets they consume and trust.

Although any company will want to be pro-active and seek coverage in the press, there are times when you will be responding to incoming queries from journalists. In that situation you need to act fast, deliver honest comments and consider how they will be perceived. We are experts at helping to draft those statements. For those clients who do not have in-house teams we can also act as your press office.

Another important aspect is your internal communications. While your external stakeholders are critical so are the business’ own internal staff. During times of crisis communicating strong leadership is equally important to both stakeholder groups. Ensuring both your executive team and staff base are aligned is vital and equipped with the necessary information to deal with any looming crises. The most dangerous tactic in this situation is not communicating and hoping the situation will pass. Being proactive will help retain trust and relationships during any challenging and high-risk situations.

Are you are interested in hearing more about the work we do and what we can do for your business? Speak to a member of our award-winning team today to find out how we could work together.

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