Business expert and coach Peter Boolkah has spent 30 years advising companies on upscaling and growing – as well as surviving crises. He has some sound advice for helping travel companies exit lockdown and build their businesses back up…

With lockdown easing, the ban on international travel lifting and the travel industry gearing up for a return to business. Businesses must ask themselves: ‘What are the steps we can take to maximise our chances of success and not fall behind our competitors?’

World travel is different currently, the goalposts are constantly shifting. The industry will have to work hard to encourage people that it is safe and hassle free to holiday again. It is crucial that companies are ready and able to trade in this ever-changing travel landscape.

During this pandemic, some businesses have closed their doors for good, but others have weathered the storm.

Here are my six steps to success.

Peter Boolkah

#1 Go with the (cash) flow

During the 2008/09 financial crisis, companies saw their credit lines slashed and we are seeing that happen again in some cases. It is not uncommon for businesses to use supplier credit to cash flow their business, often stretching payment terms to the maximum. The reality is now many businesses will be forced to pay pro-forma, meaning they will be invoiced in advance so payment for goods and services is upfront. Therefore accurate cash flow projections are crucial.

#2 Map out the next 90 days

Put together a clear action plan for the first 90 days of reopening and then spend your time and energy executing it. What is the key thing you want to achieve during this period? Identify three to five supporting priorities that will help you achieve the goal. Write a ‘who, what, when list’ detailing who will do what by when. The action plan should also have a cash flow forecast and a marketing objectives and it should be a clear 13 week-on-week execution strategy to bring all the above points alive. Have a weekly company communication so the team knows how the company is doing.

#3 Assess your marketing plan

Does your business have a marketing plan that’s reflective of the global changes? During the last 12 months the world has become digitally centric. Sites such as Tripadvisor and Google Reviews can be some of the best low-cost marketing you can do. A high growth economy favours speed. Those businesses fastest out of the starting blocks have the greatest chances of success. Marketing and PR will help to scoop up existing customers and attract new ones. This is an area which should not be overlooked or used as a cash flow reduction exercise. Pay close attention to your social media sites. Make sure you have a strong presence and are active. Build your brand carefully and get it out there to your potential customers.

#4 Maintain customer loyalty

Some agents have gone the extra mile for clients during the pandemic, such as offering to do their shopping, which is great to see. After being locked down for long periods, customers are going to want to feel special, so incentivise them to book or rebook with you. Make them feel safe and help make their experience hassle-free. Find ways to go that extra mile and make them feel like they are the most important person in the world. If you treat them right, they will tell the world about their great experience and help drive sales to your business.

#5 Make the most of your database

When people shop with you, connect with them and give them a reason to pass over their details. Whether it’s a customer loyalty programme, newsletter or subscribing to your Facebook page, do not let it be a one-off relationship. Your goal is to create customers not shoppers. A shopper will spend with you once, a customer will repeatedly spend with you over a period of time.

#6 No man or woman is an island

Finally, depending on the size of your business, if you are feeling overwhelmed, get yourself some support. There are so many business professionals out there who can help and advise businesses of all sizes.  You don’t have to go it alone.

Find out more about Peter Boolkah here