There’s a lot of uncertainty in the tourism industry about what business will look like when lockdown ends.
Whilst most tourism businesses are keeping their doors shut for now, it currently looks like many tourism businesses will start to get the go ahead from the Government, to open their businesses from 4 July 2020. Some are hesitant to take this step until conditions improve, amidst fears of a second spike.
Like you, we don’t know exactly when our clients in the tourism industry will be able to open their doors again, or how they may need to adapt their services to accommodate for a new normal.
Don’t worry. This uncertainty doesn’t mean you can’t plan at all. There are some things we suggest you do to prepare for business to come back.
It’s possible business may come back slow, even when you can open
Or it may come back fast.
You want to be just as prepared for the possibility that business won’t pick up fast when you reopen as you are prepared for an influx.
Having been resigned to our houses and local areas for months now, many of us will be desperate to get out and see somewhere new. Take trips. Plan excursions and activities. I’m sure you’ve felt the cabin fever yourself!
This could mean that when lockdown measures are lifted even further, tourism companies see an influx of business. But it’s important to remind ourselves that:
- There may be some initial hesitation to get back to ‘normal’ – Social distancing was a completely new concept to all of us. We’ve become accustomed to distancing ourselves in order to remain safe and protect others from a deadly virus. Whilst everyone will indeed be desperate to go places, it may also take a while for it to feel safe to travel, to eat at a restaurant, to stay at a hotel, instead opting to be at home.
- Tourism is still a luxury for many people – many of whom will have experienced income cuts or job losses. In-person events and conferences may not pick up until businesses pick up, which may affect hotels that rely on event bookings to fill their rooms and restaurants.
What can you do now to prepare, and what about when you can open?
There are several government schemes you can take advantage right now, to see you through until you’re able to open up. When it becomes safe enough to do so, you’ll want to keep an eye on costs and staff.
- Take advantage of the furlough scheme – The scheme has been extended until October, meaning you can continue to provide for your staff even if you are able to open up earlier.
- Bring staff back slowly until you see how busy you are – Take people off furlough as slowly as possible.
- Be mindful of your staff and their fears – People who are coming off furlough are likely to be nervous to return to work. Their local shop may be the furthest they have travelled for months, and the most interaction they’ve had with people. Be mindful of that. Give encouragement. Ensure them that you’re doing everything you can to make sure environments are safe for them (and for the public).
- Be careful of what costs you bring back on board when you open up – look at your expenses and make cuts where you can. Create a minimalist budget and stick to necessary costs only, until business picks up.
- Make sure you are getting your business rates holiday – the government promised 12 months free rates for tourism businesses from 1 April.
- Keep any new sources of income going – If you are doing take-aways from your restaurant, continue as long as possible to provide a good source of income. Especially if costs are low and you can maintain your secondary income source with skeleton staff. You may even find this is something you continue way beyond the re-opening properly.
Use this time to think about your business
It sounds like a wishy washy thing to say. We probably all feel a little bit like we’ve had too much time to think!
But many of our clients have told us that lockdown has given them the opportunity to think about their business. They’re usually so busy running the business, they don’t feel like they have time to work on it – to think about where they want to be and what their goals are.
You may find goals have changed. You may find this pandemic has forced your goals to change. But you have the opportunity to reflect, and figure out where you’re going.
If you need help with planning how to get there, our tourism team is always here to help.