As I sit in my office in Punta Cana, staring at a deserted beach, trying to see past the cancellations and the bleakness of the future, I am drawn to online research and statistics.
I wish to thank Arival for having the foresight to want to reach out and band us together – we who strive to make travel the unforgettable experience that keeps all travelers wanting more. We, the little guys, who wake up every day excited to be bringing the best of our destinations to the tourists who have arrived and are ready to be wowed… We who spend countless hours thinking about what else we can do to make our tour the best one they have ever been on.
As I read through some of the material online, one comment stood out:
¨I think we have all suddenly awoken to find out how brutally vulnerable and risky our sector can be. I believe the virus will force changes in the way we run a tour and activities business in Italy. Maybe there will be changes everywhere else, too.¨
These are the words of Emiliano Mochi, CEO of Eyes of Rome, from this Arival article of stories of operators in Italy.
I am shocked at how in one sentence he has captured how I feel so well even though he is living this event hundreds of miles away from my little Caribbean island.
By now, anyone who is in this business has seen the highs of high season and the lows of low season and is used to trying to deal with each as best they can. What we are not used to is thinking that with this virus, our world as we know it is turned completely upside down, blown apart. Brutally vulnerable and risky seems almost like an understatement.
Nothing can prepare you for dealing with cancellation after cancellation with no end in sight. And for not knowing when you can expect the trend to reverse and for bookings to come back. And now we have to face the awful truth that it may be that way for many months to come.
Many of us are small businesses. Driven by a passion for what we do, be it great food, history, or a love of the sea. We soldier on and in the end, all we ever wanted to do was share our passion with travelers from around the world. Never did it occur to us that there would be no travelers whatsoever with whom to share it with.
So now what?
Well, quite frankly I have no idea. The Dominican government appears to be on island time. It has not yet made announcements for what we are sure will be measures of self-isolation that are in place like anywhere else in the world. It has however stopped most inbound flights and began returning all travelers home asap.
So that leaves me with a lot of time now to try and come up with a plan. It is impossible to see what the future looks like when the present seems so enormous an obstacle. The virus is so tiny, has effectively become a giant blocking out the light. At least that is how it feels.
I suppose in the end a deep restructure and re-positioning will be needed in order to emerge from this alive. This will lead to tough marketing questions and pricing questions and everything in between.
I for one will be watching closely all of the ideas that are shared as I can use all the help I can get.
I just hope my savings will be enough to carry us through this dark spot on the history of travel.
So dear Arival, please keep the information and the webinars going as the tour business needs you now more than ever.
From the team at Arival: Hang in there. We’re in it together, and we’ll get through it together.