COVID19 caused disruptions across industries. However, it appears that the travel industry suffered the most as there was very little to do to cushion the blow of the pandemic – the industry had a 42.1% decrease in global revenue. While the pandemic paralyzed people and made traveling borderline impossible, it also kept hoteliers in place.
Tour operators couldn’t visit popular networking events in the industry, establish connections and improve or generate more revenue streams.
Today we’ll take a closer look at networking in the travel industry – what it used to be, what it looks like at the moment, and what is in your power to improve networking during COVID19.
Networking in the Travel Industry Before the COVID19 Pandemic
As you might already know, the hotel industry is run and managed by people who love to work and travel. Maybe this is the reason why there are so many networking events over the year. However, during the COVID19 pandemic with all those imposed traveling restrictions, many networking events during 2020 were canceled or made hybrid. Some of them were moved entirely online.
Before the pandemic, there were several major international travel industry networking events. The most visited ones include:
● Fitur Madrid – Fitur is the international tourism trade fair traditionally held in Madrid, Spain. It attracts over 11,000 companies from over 165 countries. With more than 111,000 visitors from the general public, it’s a great place to generate and capture leads.
● WTM London – WTM is an established international tourism trade fair. It attracts over 5,000 exhibitors and more than 50,000 participants. It facilitates over €3 billion in travel industry deals.
● ITB Berlin – ITB Berlin is one of the world’s most popular travel trade shows bringing travel, hospitality, and tourism industries together.
● ITB Asia – ITB Asia is as popular in Asia as ITB Berlin is in Europe. This three-day B2B trade show is a perfect meeting place for everyone in the travel industry. A place where startups, small and medium-sized businesses meet with top international buyers for Leisure, Travel Tech, and Corporate Travel markets.
How Has Networking Changed?
Traditional networking in the travel industry comes with several barriers – time, expenses, and location. COVID19 disrupted the networking initiatives in the niche forcing everyone to rely on the internet. When things move online, all the barriers mentioned above are out of the equation.
Virtual networking is getting traction today and all thanks to travel restrictions. It appears that people find value in virtual gatherings. They are convenient, don’t require you to spend time or cash to travel to the destination, and enable people to attend them on the go, wherever they are.
7 Ways to Build Your Network During COVID19
Building your network during COVID19 is not hard when you know your milestones. Here are seven ways to do it stress-free.
Keep Your Online Profile Up to Date
The studies tell us that travelers on average visit 38 travel websites before deciding which travel package to buy. The same applies to B2B customers. It simply means that you need to invest more in your online identity. Personalize your brand to help people perceive your company in a positive light. It will help you reconnect with people and leverage the online portfolio to build new partnerships.
Keep Connections With Those Who Matter Alive
It’s time to assess your network to identify potentially valuable partners in these hard times. Maybe some of those connections went cold over time. If they are of any value to you, don’t hesitate to reach out and get in touch. Everyone is going through a hard time now.
It’s Time to Get Personal
The entire travel industry was hit hard by COVID19. Consider dropping the official approach and business jargon. Instead, focus on connecting to businesses on a personal level. When you reach out, feel free to mention the impact of a pandemic on your business, what you are currently doing to cushion it, and how the people you are reaching out to can help you achieve it.
Implement New Technologies
The pandemic has changed the method of how business is done in the travel industry. Everything is online now. You should look for technologies that offer the best opportunities both in terms of networking and revenue. Also, becoming available across more than one digital communication channel is a good start. Today, people use different apps to communicate and hold meetings.
Utilize Social Media
Since the new trend is remote networking, you should definitely consider adding social media to your networking mix. LinkedIn offers great opportunities when it comes to connecting with other professionals in your niche.
Make sure to complete your profile and update it with the most recent information. It is also important to optimize your profile for the audience you are targeting.
Also, joining groups is a way to stay updated and connect with new people. Travel & Tourism Industry Professionals Worldwide, for instance, is a LinkedIn group that had approximately 120,000 active members. Today it has over 350,000 members.
Organize Networking Within Your Organization
Staying in touch with everyone in your organization is also vital to keep your company up and running during the pandemic. Organizing networking within your organization can help you engage your employees who are now working remotely and help them achieve their goals. Many companies hold online team-building events regularly just to enable co-workers to spend some quality time together.
Online Meetings Are the Way to Go
Once you have established a connection with the right contacts, it is easier to use some of the more popular tools during the pandemic. People are so familiar with conference calls now. Before, it was difficult for some people since they were not so familiar with technology, but now it became part of their daily routine.
There are several platforms built to facilitate meetings and networking when face-to-face is impossible like Skype, Google Meet, Microsoft Teams and of course Zoom. In particular, Zoom has risen above the competition as a reliable and trustworthy networking tool. It enables you to organize or participate in virtual meetings from the convenience of your home. Keep in mind that Zoom is not reserved only for networking events. You can get creative with it and even organize virtual coffee breaks for your staff. While networking in the travel industry may be disrupted, it’s far from being completely canceled. Thanks to new technologies and various communication channels, you can stay engaged within your network, meet new people, keep your staff on their toes, and establish new partnerships.
Ido, graduated from the College of Management Academic Studies, is Hotelmize Sales Operations Manager. He has a demonstrated history of working in the Sales & Marketing industry, and is paving his path in the Travel & Tourism industry. His skills in Negotiation, Interpersonal Relations, Team Management, Customer Service, and Sales Management, makes him a strong Sales Manager and a team player in the Travel Industry