Make sure you have access to the latest advice to answer questions, says Nikki White, head of destination sustainability at Abta
Our industry is perhaps unique in the number and range of variable factors that we have to deal with. The world is our product, with all of the joys and challenges that it throws up.
Our customers demand that this product is both reliable and trustworthy. The fact that the industry successfully takes millions of holidaymakers overseas each year and still delivers high-quality and, above all, enjoyable holidays may seem miraculous, but in reality it’s a reflection of the hard work and preparation that goes on behind the scenes, often out of the media spotlight.
Global events seem to be becoming increasingly unpredictable and volatile, with many of these events having a very direct impact on our industry.
Who would have thought that the Arab Spring would be followed by general instability in many countries?
It is understandable that in such an atmosphere of increased disruption, more customers are turning to familiar destinations, as the latest forward booking figures indicate.
However, customers will also look increasingly towards their travel company as a source of reassurance and support.
It is understandable in the current climate that you may feel more concerned about giving advice about destinations to your customers than usual. It’s something I’ve been hearing more and more: how do you provide this advice and reassurance in such unknown circumstances?
First, it is vital that you have procedures in place that will both enable you to minimise risk and deal effectively with any situations when they do occur.
In terms of advice, the best information still comes from the Foreign Office. The range of intelligence that is used to shape this advice is far greater than we will ever have as an industry. If your customers are asking or concerned about a destination, referring to the travel advice is the best starting place.
At Abta we can of course help our members through resources such as our destination bulletins, which are updated as soon as any event occurs or Foreign Office advice changes. The extensive range of legal guidance available on abta.com and the assistance we can provide to your communications team can also be invaluable.
Access the latest advice
Take the recent Zika situation. Although this has affected many destinations, the need for accurate information was key to helping inform anyone travelling to these destinations.
National headlines about Zika saw a rise in calls from concerned customers, but thanks to the detailed information provided by authoritative bodies such as the National Travel Health Network and Centre, the industry had the information to allay these fears.
Without those systems in place in your business to access accurate information, a situation can swiftly escalate in scale and with the new realities of social media and 24/7 news coverage you no longer have the benefit of even a small breathing space.
Double check you have to hand all the links to the most accurate information so you’re prepared to handle the questions we’re all facing.
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