A Perfect Storm
Remember George Clooney’s 2000 blockbuster, The Perfect Storm, where 3 separate storm fronts converge into one? The current global coronavirus pandemic now feels like the perfect storm in real life – the Global Financial Crisis (GFC), SARS, and the 9-11 tragedy all rolled into one.
To help us rationalize a way through the shock of COVID-19 let’s review the lessons learned from each of those moments in history
The GFC in 2008/9 – a mortgage lending crisis in our country became a global recession that dramatically demonstrated the interconnectivity of the global marketplace. Apart from the obvious lessons of regulatory oversight, this period demonstrated the importance of diversifying your business across different client industries, destinations, travel purposes and budgets. While recovery was slow for many industries, efficiencies and automation were brought into businesses and the market bounced back.
The SARS pandemic in 2003 – has been considered the most relevant comparison for a global health crisis, yet was still largely restricted to the APAC region, meaning travel was limited, but still operational. Corporates enacted a travel freeze, typically lasting three months, then necessary travel picked up slowly for the next three-four months before the more risk-averse started recognizing it was safe to travel. Then the market made up for lost time with a surge in corporate and leisure travel.
September 11th in 2001 – while nothing will ever compare to the 9-11 tragedy, there are parallels to the current situation such as the complete halt in air travel and emergency crews and security procedures suddenly in effect. What we learned through that time was that with compassion and level heads, life does resume to normal, and travelers will adapt to whatever new measures will be put in place to help prevent a repeat of the event.
In all of these scenarios, platforms like tramada® were sought out to help manage the crisis from a travel agency perspective, and Tramada Systems remains today a partner that agencies can rely on. In the moment of learning about the crisis, having immediate access to real time data for duty of care including where travelers were at the time, where they’ve been, and where they’re going, are all critical to assist clients each of these unprecedented circumstances. In the case of COVID-19 the magnitude of refund processing and reconciliation turned into the #1 labor intensive activity for advisors. With tramada, agencies have one data source/keeper of the truth to work from. Additionally, the management of unused tickets is now the top item to contend with and without tracking and automation, dollars will be lost or left on the table. Lastly, having been cloud-based since 2001, tramada is the perfect at-home companion for advisors working away from the office – who knows, working remotely may become the new normal post-COVID-19.
From these three independent storm fronts, the blueprint for travel industry recovery is there. The only question is one of timelines. And it’s a big question, but the more we all cooperate with isolation, social distancing, handwashing and generally preventing the spread, the sooner we will all be back on track and traveling. We may be leaner, but we’ll be stronger. History has proven this.