• Declan Trifunovic

Communicating Clean Post-Pandemic

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In the 23rd session of Survive and Revive, Richard invited Andrea Plawutsky of Amplify Me to return for her second session. Now that things have moved along, it’s time to consider how businesses will communicate the things that they’re doing to protect and support their clients. Demonstrating cleanliness and new safety procedures is one thing, but changes to cancellation policies, and how bookings and reservations are made can be a more complicated matter. In this session, which was designed for anyone in the travel and tourism industries that deals with clients, Andrea offers her communications expertise to provide guidance for how to communicate clean, in a post-pandemic world.

What To Say

At the present point in time, there is a significant portion of the traveler market who are concerned about potential changes that may occur in the near future, such as upcoming restrictions, health concerns, and other unforeseen occurrences. Furthermore, there are many changes that have already occurred that consumers need to be made aware of to avoid any unnecessary surprises during their experience. Of course, cleanliness and new hygiene practices will form a significant component of that. Now more than ever before, consumers are more concerned with their own safety when travelling on even the safest domestic routes, and travel businesses are under greater pressure to accommodate for their client’s concerns, and abide by new government regulations.

In order to ensure smooth and mutually beneficial interactions, Andrea advises that all official communications be clear and concise in stating what changes have occurred, and just as importantly, the reasons why they have occurred. This includes explaining why certain compromises have been made. For example, to avoid a client being dissatisfied with the lack of a buffet breakfast at your hotel, it would be best to explain the new procedure involving ordering your meal, and then having the chef prepare it fresh for you, and explain that this has been implemented to minimise exposure of clients and staff to shared utensils, to thereby minimise the spread of germs. In doing so, the business in question would not only clearly set consumer expectations to avoid surprises and potential disappointment, but can also explain the benefits of this new procedure, such as having a freshly cooked meal prepared specifically for you. In this context, procedures and protocols also refer to cancellation and refund policies, which are currently one of the most important points to clearly communicate to your customers.

This basic principle can be applied to any business within the travel industry, and will undoubtedly assist all businesses in mitigating customer frustrations, and will also assist in achieving customer understanding and trust. It is Andrea’s belief that customers are willing to be understanding when they’ve been given the reasons behind the choices your business has made.

How To Communicate Clearly

People learn in different ways, and it is important to understand this when communicating to your audience. Understanding your own message is also crucial for this. For example, for some people may better understand your travel agency’s new cancellation policy if you show them a diagram depicting how your money has been spent. That is, which suppliers have received your money, and how their respective refund policies interact, thereby allowing your customers to understand why you cannot immediately give them a complete refund. For other customers, a clear and concise written statement or pamphlet may prove to be the best way of conveying all necessary information, and for others a video, or in-person/digital chat may prove more useful.

Of course, being able to use a mixture of these options, across various platforms including your website and social media channels, will likely yield the best results. An important lesson in communication to takeaway is that a good message is not one that can be understood, but one that cannot be misunderstood. Communicating with clients clearly in this manner is also an effective way to demonstrate the true value of your business, as you are explaining the complex activities you undertake that adds value to their purchase, such as by handling the complicated refund processes with each supplier on their behalf.

Getting In Front Of People As A Brand

When communicating with clients, it is important to remember your relationship with them, and ensure you do not overstep the boundaries of that relationship. Customers don’t want to hear excessive levels of concern about their personal lives from the dozens of brands they interact with, but would rather hear your concerns regarding the direct interaction between them and yourselves. Furthermore, Andrea reinforces the importance of maintaining a positive attitude to inspire customers for the future, and instil into them confidence rather than concern.

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