Airlines, hotels, travel bloggers and other travel businesses are feeling the pain from the global spread of the Coronavirus (COVID-19). Travel demand is slowing dramatically and that spells lost revenue everywhere. The impact could be felt for years. This strong reaction to the virus could continue through the majority of 2020. The Coronavirus may bankrupt many travel businesses – what should we do?
The World Is Freaking Out
Our species is worried. History has shown pandemics have happened and will reliably continue to happen. People are dying. In a fear-driven, warning-inducing, news-breaking, technology-paced environment most of live in, COVID-19 has the world on alert.
Major events are canceled. Most recently, the Tokyo Marathon and South by Southwest In Austin, TX. More will come as the virus continues to spread.
Global attempts to stem the spread of the virus and minimize its’ mortality rate is not working with great effectiveness. The virus seems to be winning. And without an end date on when travel will get back to normal, for many, planning work or pleasure trips is on the back-burner.
What Should Travel Businesses Do?
Be sensitive. Each individual sees the virus’ threat differently. Some travelers appear unfazed. Others are deathly afraid of catching it. Understanding each risk appetite is important.
Prepare for major reductions in revenue. The simple economics show there is substantially less demand for travel stemming from COVID-19. For those ill-prepared for a sustained loss in income this year, the effect could be devastating.
Potentially seek out new sources of revenue. Perhaps a short-term focus on local excursions (staycations) could drive additional income streams.
A Beacon Of Hope
There will be some folks wanting to travel regardless of the presented risks. For example, travel to North Korea was a terrible idea last couple of decades. However, there is a list of brave souls that did just that. And detained unsurprisingly. There are government travel advisories stating, “Do Not Travel!” Yet people go anyway.
The point is while the world is freaking out about the virus, there remain large numbers of potential travelers waiting for a good deal and will travel.
As the world becomes more secluded during the outbreak, there is a great opportunity for cheap deals. For savvy travelers with little concern for the virus, it might be one of the best times to book travel.
On top of cheap fares, hotels, car rentals, etc., change fees are waived to provide free flexibility. Outside of Southwest Airlines or select high-value customer travel benefits, that’s unheard of.
Top tourist attractions (if open) will have short or no lines. Easy access to the best restaurants. Airports will have a fraction of normal passengers and flights.
Wait It Out
History tells us this hysteria will pass. Life will return to normal at some point. The problem is it’s unclear when that date will arrive. It’s hard to plan around. But, it will arrive. And people will want to seek out travel again in droves when it’s as safe as possible.
Interestingly the Olympics are not yet canceled. One option expressed is to proceed without spectators. Imagine that opening ceremony! The athletes waving to themselves and the cameras as they walk out representing their countries.
Read. Plan. Travel. Repeat!