How did we get here and when do we get out?
Current U.S. travel industry economics aren’t a pretty picture—investment has ground to a halt, demand is declining to the worst levels in decades, and prospects for near-term improvement are at best, uncertain, and at worst, distant. But the tough times won’t last forever. Certain cyclical and secular (i.e., noncyclical) economic realities will ultimately drive the industry through the recession to recovery and eventually a rebound. The long-term prospects for travel demand and investment are promising.
PhoCusWright's top three ways to plan smart during the recession:
Plan for each phase of the business cycle.
- Manage discretionary costs during recession that do not overly inhibit the ability to exploit recovery when it comes.
- Manage the labor force in ways that support human capital pruning, development, cultivation and preparation for needed expansion when it occurs.
- Manage owner expectations for the near term, and position patience and loyalty for the long term.
If you discount, do so carefully so you can preserve brand value and price opportunities when recovery comes.
- Reduce price in circumstances only where the percentage increase in volume will offset the percentage decrease in price. Even then, be conscious of covering variable costs, precipitating an unwanted price war, or thwarting future opportunities to raise prices.
- Use opacity, value-add and packaging to obfuscate the actual dollar value of discounting and highlight unique service value.
- When discounting, reward the loyal customer rather than all customers.
- Negotiate shorter deals. Don’t lock in low prices you’ll regret later.
Do not over-allocate marketing budgets to promotion versus image advertising.It is tempting in a recession, particularly a long one, to focus too much on promotional marketing with a measurable ROI, and financial managers can be persuaded more easily with measurable ROIs. Investment in image advertising is still needed, even if it’s at a temporarily lower level of spend. Shift to more measurable and tactical advertising in the short run, but not so much that your image and awareness take a hit in the long run.