As individuals and as an industry, it’s safe to say that we have never faced anything like the coronavirus crisis before, and the roller coaster continues.
Both at a company and individual level it is prudent to plan for the worst, but of course hope for the best and ensure all opportunities are grasped. From a travel perspective, the news on Spain may have felt like the final straw, but it hasn’t stopped those customers who want to travel rebooking or making new bookings for other destinations. While we know the impact on us in the travel and hospitality sector is severe and will last for some time, the outlook in March/April presented a bleaker picture than what we are now seeing.
So while it may sometimes feel like ‘two steps forwards, one step back’, or indeed, depending on the sort of day you are having, the other way around, we are making progress. Not least the passage of time is showing the fortitude and resilience of the passionate and dedicated people in our industry, and the huge value and benefit of the care provided by travel professionals that take pride in what they do for customers as we help them navigate the options and the ever-changing travel landscape.
The way companies and individuals behave during this period will further define their reputation, and people will always remember how we made them feel. We can only ask for understanding and empathy given what we are facing, as we never know what battles others are having to deal with. This is especially important in the current environment given the physical and mental well-being of so many being adversely affected.
Of course, we didn’t cause this crisis, but we are responsible for learning the lessons it presents and act on the things that we can control. The companies with trust accounts remain protected from the severe impact on cash that other businesses are juggling with. It’s now our collective responsibility as in industry to work together to ensure that customer money is protected and the remaining gaps in consumer financial protection are closed, as the behaviours and policies of all in the supply chain affect all of our customers.
To say that this time has been difficult for many would be an understatement, but our goal has to be more than just surviving. Rather it should be focused on re-building something even better, for ourselves and for our customers. We won’t let this virus defeat us or define who we are. It’s much more important that we continue to do the right things, focus on our relationships with customers and strengthen ties with travel partners that support us to act with kindness and caring.
Rather than spend time worrying (which is completely understandable in the circumstances) we are much better served continuing to do what we do best through showing care to our customers and influencing the things we can control.There will be always be challenges and obstacles, but even in extreme adversity there is also the chance to find something positive, so we should look for the opportunities that are with us even now.
Many are taking this time to reshape and improve their business at pace and in a way that would have taken years previously. The same applies individually, and we now have the opportunity to ask ourselves how can I be better, stronger, more resilient, more in control and even more successful in the future.
How you’re feeling in any given moment will be different for each individual and will change day to day. That includes knowing it’s OK to not be OK, and to take advantage of a community – be that family, friends or business – that has got your back and will always be there for you.
It also includes knowing when to take that time and space for yourself in order to re-group and put things into perspective. We must also remind ourselves that building a business or career is a long-term project, and there will always be kinks in the road. This is the biggest challenge we have faced to-date, but it’s not permanent. A vaccine will emerge and over time this too will pass.
Sadly, not every business will come through this but those who work together to focus on recovery, have a desire to win and have the care and support network, plus the resilience and sheer determination to build themselves back up again, can look forward to a brighter future and even better things to come.
Steve Byrne is chief executive of Travel Counsellors.