Bookings have been a major casualty of the coronavirus pandemic. Businesses of all shapes and sizes, from independent salons to multinational hospitality chains, have suffered from missed, cancelled, and postponed bookings.
Nowhere has this been more apparent than in the travel and hotel industries. Venice, for example, saw a whopping 80% of reservations cancelled, and future bookings are practically non-existent.
But many businesses are also adapting to the situation in original, creative, and technologically innovative ways.
In this post, we’re going to analyse some of the impacts that COVID-19 has had on businesses and also take a look at the ways in which they are adapting.
How Have Cancelled Bookings Due to Coronavirus Affected the Economy?
The broader economic damage caused by COVID-9 is well-documented. Global share prices have plummeted, unemployment has risen drastically, hiring rates are down, and the overall cost of living has increased.
And cancelled bookings have played a large part in many areas. The travel and hotel industries, for example, have been severely negatively affected, with many third-party booking sites overwhelmed by cancellations.
Numerous airlines have gone out of business, and others are teetering on the edge of bankruptcy.
Smaller businesses have been hurt by cancelled bookings, too. In March, nearly 70% of salons, for example, reported a downturn in revenue compared to the same period the previous year.
So how are businesses adapting in these troubling times?
5 Ways Businesses Are Adapting
So how are businesses adapting to changes in both the marketplace and broader economy? Here are five of the most common trends, many of which may be suitable for your own company.
1. Virtual Meetings In, Physical Meetings Out
One way that some companies have dealt with being unable to meet clients face-to-face is by transitioning to video conferencing software.
Use of Zoom, for example, has skyrocketed since lockdown measures were introduced. In many cases, online meetings have become the norm for staff and customers, and despite some initial misgivings, most individuals and companies have now warmed to the idea.
Many businesses have also taken advantage of designated software for managing online scheduling, providing clients with an extra layer of efficiency.
With these tools, individuals can access a simple online portal and book a slot for a meeting. Whenever a time is scheduled, the relevant employee’s calendar will automatically update.
Often, these tools also take care of confirmation emails, reminders, and meeting links, allowing companies to leverage software without the need to allocate large amounts of extra time and resources.
2. Long-Term Vouchers
Some companies, particularly airlines, have offered long-term vouchers to prevent cash reserves from being depleted. Often, this strategy also limits the number of angry customers.
And while some big-name carriers, like Ryanair, have come under a lot of criticism for this controversial approach, it’s undeniable that it can create a short-term safety net.
Instead of a direct refund, customers usually receive an email offering a voucher code which can be used for a period of up to twelve months, after which a normal refund will still be issued.
Recipients can, of course, still opt to receive a refund as soon as possible instead.
What makes this alternative attractive to many people, however, is the opportunity it provides to avoid a lengthy wait given that customer service teams are inundated with requests.
3. Discounts for Delayed Services
One innovative strategy that some hotels have pioneered is the sale of “buy now stay later bonds”. Essentially, the idea is a simple one: customers purchase a “voucher” that can be redeemed for a hotel room or service at a later date.
After a certain period, the voucher increases in value, from $100 to $150, for example.
This offer allows participating hotels to collect revenue during periods of downtime, while also incentivizing would-be-travellers to make a purchase. The practice has become very popular, with several hotels taking part.
Other companies in the hospitality sector are involved too. Restaurants, for example, are offering bonds which increase in value after a certain period. And several third-party services, like The Dining Bond Initiative, have sprung up to cater to demand.
4. Client Portals
Client portals are essentially online areas for clients. Because government measures have forced people to remain at home, most businesses have to move online. Many have also had to furlough large swathes of their workforce.
This has created a conundrum for many companies, and they have been forced to ask, “How can we cater to greater online demand with fewer employees?”
Dedicated online areas enable clients to complete a range of tasks, from booking appointments to submitting customer service requests, without any input from members of staff. This has allowed many companies to continue to cater to their customer base with limited financial and human resources.
5. Help Packages for Suppliers
Long-term business damage hasn’t been the result of fewer sales or bookings exclusively. Many local and global supply chains have been detrimentally affected by coronavirus. And this has meant that companies haven’t been able to provide their customers with the same quality and variety of services.
What’s more, if a vital supply chain isn’t able to operate in the future, it will make it harder to bounce back once things return to a semblance of normality. This has prompted my companies to create support packages to protect their supply chains. Airbnb, for example, announced a $250 million fund for its hosts.
While the long-term impacts of coronavirus remain to be seen, one thing is for certain: companies that can adapt and innovate are much more likely to weather the storm. If you run a booking-based business, consider