“Hands up who likes 2020?” – cue a deathly silence. This year has thrown the kitchen sink at our industry, and it is not yet finished. So, how do we survive with our businesses - and our mental health - intact?
As a business owner, the equation is simple. “No bookings” equals “no income”. That was the alarming predicament facing me this Easter.
Cancellations and rearrangements became the order of the day, working harder than ever to effectively unpick the very arrangements that were supposed to yield my income for 2020. We’ve had major travel crises before, but what made this different, was the long-term and enduring nature of Covid-19.
More than ever before, mental strategies have become vital to ensure long-term survival.
As a franchisee, I’ve benefitted from phenomenal support from our parent company Travel Counsellors, who recognised very early on in the pandemic the importance of safeguarding the mental health of everyone within the organisation.
Communication is king. I’ve always believed this, but it’s never been more important than over the last few months. It is easy to play the victim and wait for help, but here, as entrepreneurs, we’ve been reminded (as the well-known saying goes) to accept the things we cannot change, but have the courage to change the things we can.
While Covid-19 dominates world news, we remain in charge of our own destinies, provided we control the controllables.
Fundamental to the support we’ve received has been a consistent and structured flow of phone, video and email messages offering in equal measure, support and guidance in terms of how we can help ourselves. Layered onto this we’ve been given some motivational material by our chief executive [Steve Byrne] who has recorded a series of outstanding one-on-one video conversations with other prominent business personalities. Finally, we’ve been given access to a whole range of self-help training modules to enable us to expand our personal capabilities into new areas.
Mindset is crucial. Inspirational and focussed leadership from our directors has encouraged me to use 2020 to take stock of my own business.
Alongside managing the aborted 2020 trips, I’ve used my spare time to reconnect with customers I’ve not heard from for a while - reaching out, finding out how they’re doing, reassuring them that I’m coping well and raring to go when this all passes. There is no value in being despondent and self-pitying, instead I’ve gone for “resilient and professional”.