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Recovering from a crisis – tips for tourism businesses

Although the Margaret River Region from Busselton to Augusta, has not been directly affected by the recent fires in the Shires of Waroona and Harvey, you might find that visitors to the region may still have questions about future  travel intentions or confirmed arrangements due to associated major road closures and emergency travel advice, especially if they are from interstate or international and not familiar with the associated geographical footprint of the area. It also serves as a timely reminder to always be prepared.

Here are some suggestions to help your business recover after any general emergency (assuming you are indeed open for business) to implement in the weeks or months following, to substantially assist with the recovery process:

Protecting your existing bookings

  • Protect the business ‘on your books’ by contacting people with existing bookings to reassure them that you are open. This action can prevent cancellations.
  • Post up-to-date information on your website and prepare bulletins for staff to respond to telephone inquiries about the emergency situation.
  • Review your cancellation policy and ensure it is clear and fair. Consider offering to hold funds for a future booking or reducing “standard” cancellation charges as a gesture of goodwill in consideration of circumstances.

Monitor your cash flow

  • Monitor your budget carefully in the weeks and months following a crisis. Compare your estimated turnover with actual figures so you can modify outgoing expenses accordingly.

Review the products or services you sell

  • If your business has been directly affected by the emergency, confirm the products/services that you do have to sell. You may need to come up with new options if your existing product has been damaged. Be creative and flexible. Allow yourself to venture into new territory.
  • Look at ways of adding extra value to your existing products/services to encourage people to visit your business. Develop packages and remove minimum stay requirements.
  • As a number of products and experiences in your region may no longer be operating, do some research to identify alternative options for visitors.

Revise your target markets

  • Reconsider your target markets in light of the product you have to sell. Identify markets that are most likely to visit your region/business after an emergency, such as your previous guests. You may need to devise new experiences to appeal to new markets if your normal markets are staying away.

Promote your business

  • Prepare a brief marketing action plan to guide your promotional activities.
  • Promote your business as soon as it is open for trade again. Consider low-cost options, such as public relations activities, email blasts to your guest database, Google Adwords, regional marketing initiatives, etc.

Keep staff engaged

  • Involve your staff in the process of restoring your business to normal.
  • Regular communication can help them to feel part of the team and to understand the reasons behind any tough decisions.

Review staff arrangements

  • Assess whether you need to restructure your staffing arrangements to cut down costs.

Review your emergency plan

  • Review your plan after an emergency and incorporate what you have learnt from your experiences into your future planning. Crisis preparedness is an ongoing process.