Using Down-Time For Strategic Planning For Your Travel Business

April 23, 2020
Lucas Ennis (he/him)
3 min read

Many travel businesses are experiencing tour cancelations due to COVID-19. This could mean that you have time available to do strategic planning for your travel business.

Even if you do still have trips in the pipeline or ongoing work, it is a good time to re-evaluate your business strategy, taking the impact of the pandemic into account. There's no going back to business as normal just yet, which means that it's an opportunity to prepare a road map for business revival and growth going forward.

Crisis Management Playbook For Travel Companies

What Is Strategic Planning

While a business plan is typically the document used to start a company, the strategic plan is used to manage the strategic direction the business is going in. As we look beyond the current situation towards the future, this plan will help you take control of where your business is heading.

To perform business strategic planning effectively, take a step back from the day to day operations, and reflect on your current position. Note down your long term priorities and consider how you are going to adapt to meet these goals, taking any influencing internal and external factors into account.

As is usually the case with weighted strategic decisions, outcomes are most effective when the business stakeholders are involved. This includes getting active input from investors, partners, and your team in the process itself, and subsequently communicating direction to achieve the stipulated goals.

Following on from this exercise, you will have a better idea of how to take action in business with the support of your team, adapt to the new normal as it unfolds, and prioritize projects for the next while.

Goal Mapping

Foundational Elements Of A Strategic Plan

A strong strategic plan for the future requires a detailed understanding of the current business status and how it stands in the market. Therefore, the following elements should act as the foundation for your strategy:

Where is your business currently? What do operations look like internally, and what usually drives profits?

Where do you want it to go? Now, look at your goals for the future. Is that focus different to current priorities, and what will be your competitive advantage in the marketplace?

How do you get to that point? Consider the path to achieving your strategic objectives. What changes will you have to make, and how do you implement these? Do you have all the required resources at hand?

Road To Success

Steps To Create Your Plan

1. Research Market Conditions

With travel demand at an all-time low due to the uncertainties of COVID-19, you need to reassess the market you work within.

It's difficult to predict how long the industry will take to recover, and there are varying opinions on the matter.  What you can do is to stay up to date with the latest reports, join relevant webinars, and look at what peers and competitors in the industry are currently saying and doing.

You can also survey your clients to determine what their outlook is for travel in the future. Their perceptions will impact your ability to serve them.

Market Research

2. Gather Input From Your Team

Your team (including tour guides) see to the daily operation of your business. They have relationships with your clients, suppliers, partners, and know how they are handling the impact.

For strategic planning purposes, it's therefore crucial to involve your entire team in the process. Not only will you receive valuable insights for the plan, but implementing changes will be more streamlined when everyone has been involved in brainstorming and shaping ideas.

3. Conduct a SWOT Analysis

Perform an internal evaluation of your business by critically assessing its Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats. This will help you to identify what your travel business does well and where it can improve. Furthermore, you'll get an idea of what might provide a valuable boost and what presents a barrier to achieving your goals.

4. Outline Vision, Mission, and Values

Your vision and mission statements will be outlined in your business plan. However, it's worth glancing over them to ensure that they are still relevant. If you have been operating for a few years, your business may have evolved since you started.

These two statements provide the foundation for your strategic planning, helping to set the tone and remind everyone of the main objectives.

Of course, every action should tie into your business’ core values. They are the foundation of your brand and help clients and your team to connect with you.

Travel Business Vision

5. Set Goals To Work Towards

Setting goals will give your business direction and help your team to stay on track. In a world marked by COVID-19, it might make more sense to work on shorter goals to help you achieve your long term priorities. What higher-level objectives need to happen to make your vision a reality?

Possible goals that affect your business' ability to operate in the long term and may need your immediate attention include things like evaluating your tech stack, working on a new marketing plan, or formulating remote working policies. As COVID-19 has enforced the need for work from home policies, travel businesses have had to rally the team remotely with the support of new technology.

Keep in mind that technology isn’t only a means for communicating and collaborating with your team. Now more than ever it is your point of contact with your clients while people are encouraged to stay at home and use technology to connect and dream.

6. Compile A Summary Of Required Resources

Based on your strategic planning, do you have all the resources you need to achieve your goals, including finance, staff, technology, and content? Compile a summary of your requirements and arrange them alongside specific goals. Some may have higher priority than others, so it's good to have this guideline.

Priority List

Putting Your Plan Into Action

Once you have all the information collated, it's time to implement your plan. This involves rolling out departmental and/or team objectives alongside an action plan for guidance.

Perform regular evaluations on your business' progress by tracking targeted KPI's to ensure that goals are being met.  And keep all stakeholders informed and involved so that everyone can adapt to the unfolding situation.