• Alina Ostahi

10 questions to validate your business in travel is ready for the new normal

Updated: Aug 3, 2021

With today’s uncertain travel environment, not all players present in the business travel market will survive the next 2-3 years while demand builds up again. A business travel agency’s future performance depends exclusively on how they make it through the next 7 months, the first survival phase.


It is a matter of when and how… challenging it will be, considering the overlap of the health crisis, mobility crisis with financial crisis. Does your travel agency have the right short-term strategy to keep the business going, manage the cash flow challenges at the same time and prepare for what’s coming your way from the few customers with new demands?


Business and corporate travel agencies need to re-think the way they deliver their business travel services to accommodate the new normal of traveling by covering more services than they did until now, combined with anxiety and fear of traveling management.



Considering that no one can precisely define this new normal, business travel agencies are facing an unprecedented disruption period with an unclear end date. Some are very optimistic as they wait for the lockdown to finish and for some full business recovery is not foreseeable on the horizon.


One thing is for sure: some of the travel agencies will be at the starting line prepared to recover their business figures and thrive again in the long run. “The brace for impact” period is ending as we already hit the lowest point – 97% decrease vs the same time last year. So, get up and get ready for the triathlon, the races for the agile, resilient, and the change embracers is starting.


 

Here are a few questions business travel agencies need to clarify internally in order to make it to the next chapter of their existence. This survival triathlon is a multilevel race with three continuous and overlapping endurance races.


Keep in mind that this is still a competition, not all participants make it to the finish line after 3 full races.



Survival race against the ambiguity coming from travel suppliers, constantly changing information from the authorities, and lack of customer demand for business travel.

Get comfortable with the uncomfortable.

1. What are travelers telling you now about their future travel intent?

2. Who are the people who used your services until March doing now?

3. How have they changed their needs and behavior?

4. How is your travel agency responding to a shortage of revenue from current sales?

5. Is your organizational culture agile enough and fit for survival?


A race to recover what you still can get from your former customer base and fix whatever did not work before in your organization. What we learned in the 3 months about COVID 19, is that if you have a pre-existing illness, the new virus will make things worse for your health. This also applies to business. If your travel agency had unresolved issues before, and you do not address them now, this challenging new normal will be aggravating the situation and survival will be difficult.


1. Which customer segments will give you the margin you need in order to keep your core team working?

2. Which traveler behaviors can you predict for the future and start delivering on them in an efficient manner?

3. What is your operational team focusing on right now?

4. What do you need to do now to be better prepared for your customer jobs or requests? 5. How are your travel consultants managing the change in their job?


Patience race for results will pay off as signs will come soon, however, remember that the travel industry was the first one to get hit and is the last one to recover after a crisis. This is the 3rd phase of the triathlon and usually the hardest as we get tired, we lack energy and we tend to lose motivation. Will we all work harder or longer for the same revenue per booking?


1. Is resilience part of your brand DNA and culture now?

2. How are you collecting continuously the new needs or expectations from the business travelers?

3. How are you shaping your products to deliver on them and at what cost?

4. How do you deliver on the expectation for care as a key item of travel experience?

5. Are your redundant processes automated so your travel consultants can focus of the customer relationship and making sales happen faster?


 

These are just a few of the questions business travel agencies need to find answers while the new normal sets in place and business travel starts to emerge from a standstill position. In this link, you will find the wider list for building your short-term and mid-term strategy. Getting in shape for a triathlon, as an athlete, is not easy.


Neither is business travel these days... It requires a lot of hard work, self-discipline, training, knowing your strong points & weak points, motivating yourself to keep going plus having the proper equipment up & running for all 3 races. Most of all it needs lots of passion for each of the races, that you, at the end of the day, are competing in by choice.

Downloadable content - An extended list of reflective questions.