With the Coronavirus creating a global scare, tour operators and destinations are feeling the impact heavily with canceled expos, corporate events, travel plans, and simply just customers choosing to stay inside. The travel industry alone is expected to lose $10 billion over the next 4 years. So how can your tourism business navigate through this difficult time? Here is how to handle & mitigate last-minute tour & booking cancellations.
Create A Waitlist
By implementing waitlists, it allows your business to have a back-up solution in case of customer cancellations. For a waitlist to be successful, it will usually need to be for your most popular tours or any tours that generally sell out. In the event that a spot does open up, remember to have the information about customers who are ready to jump on your tour! Also, put in the effort to contact the customers on your waitlist, a simple email will let them know the tour has a number of slots open and to finish booking on your website or by contacting your business.
Ensure You Have A Clear Cancellation Policy
Take a hard look at your business, and ensure that you have a cancellation policy that fits your business model and that you are comfortable with it. In your cancellation policy, you may want to include a stipulation that customers are able to cancel up until 24 hours in advance. Many businesses offer a partial refund if a customer cancels within 24 hours of their tour. Some businesses are stricter and offer no refunds if the customer cancels within 24 hours, gives no notice, or does not show up. Figure out what works best for your business, and enforce your policy.
Reiterate Your Cancellation Policy
Sure, you may have your cancellation policy on some obscure page on your website, but let's be honest - who's looking at it? No one reads the fine print these days, so when booking customers it helps to ensure that your cancellation policy is clearly stated. You can do this by incorporating a short message on the final checkout page, reiterating the cancellation policy if you're speaking with them on the phone, and even sending follow-up reminder emails with tour information and your cancellation policy. By including your message in multiple places, you will receive less of the "You didn't tell me about the cancellation policy" arguments from disgruntled customers.
Reschedule If Possible
When a customer needs to cancel their tour, be empathetic! Remind them about your cancellation policy, and if possible offer to reschedule for another time. If your business is able to, you can even offer them to have credit on file if they are unsure when they will be available for another tour. By offering the option to reschedule, your business benefits from retaining that customer.
Sending reminders to your customers via email or text is a great way to avoid last-minute cancellations or no-shows. Your customers are on the tour because they want to experience it, however, plans can always quickly change. This is why it is so important to send reminders! At AAMP Agency, we're fans of automated email marketing! By sending email reminders, your tour stays in the front of their mind, it helps build brand recognition, and you can increase your chances of having returning customers. Send reminder emails 1 week before, 48 hours before the tour, and a "Thank You" email afterward.
Follow Up With No-Shows
Whether a customer had paid in advance or didn't and simply did not show up to the tour, follow up with them! Their flight could have been canceled, or maybe they simply forgot, but by following up on a no-show you could potentially retain that customer by rescheduling.
Tourism businesses across the globe are feeling the impact of this virus, so it's important to find ways to navigate through this difficult time. If you have any questions, feel free to reach out to our destination & tourism marketing experts here at AAMP Agency!