Now that we are experiencing a small “second wave” of covid-19 in New Zealand what lessons have we learnt from the “first wave” and lockdown period that will help the tourism community to get through? Some ideas are below, comment below if you have any more suggestions to add.

1. Panic Slowly

All over New Zealand tourism businesses faced a massive shock of sudden closure for the first lockdown in late March 2020. There was quite a varied response by tourism at that time.

Noticeably it was the larger, corporate tourism organisations that were quick to lay off staff, go into hibernation and just close their doors indefinitely. In comparison, the smaller owner-operated style businesses were more likely to protect as many of their full-time year-round staff as much as possible and re-opened their businesses to welcome the domestic market as soon as they could.

For the businesses that held on to staff they ensured they were ready to re-open from Level 2 and were suitably rewarded with enthusiastic kiwis visiting their areas and spending money. Visitors that would normally go to the larger operators instead booked with those that were open.

So…the lesson is don’t panic! Make considered decisions once you can see what is happening in the market. Don’t assume anything, actual activity in the domestic tourism market continues to surprise and delight. Even in our small second wave, there is still people visiting and moving around the level 2 regions.

2. Hold on to your best people

So many excellent people with amazing experience, knowledge and skills have been made redundant from the tourism industry in 2020. This is no doubt partly unavoidable to ensure businesses can survive financially, but possibly also very short-term panicked thinking.

If there’s one thing you can do as a decision-maker then make sure you hold on to your team members that matter the most to the successful operations of your business. The crisis not last forever and there are ways to make money, so make sure your good people are still onboard to help make that happen. Now more than ever, they will appreciate the loyalty and repay you in spades.

3. Collaborate with your local business community

If a destination, town or area can join forces to ensure you have enough open businesses for people to stay and do activities in your area then it will increase your chances of getting through this period. You will feel more part of a team environment rather than a competitive one.

Collaboration with each other will benefit everyone. It may be in the form of great package offers combining accommodation and activities, events to attract visitors, and rewarding multiple visits. See if your RTO, local marketing group, or business association will be the connectors to help make this easier to achieve.

4. Use the support resources available

Related to number 2. In order to keep your team and business going, you may well need help to get through financially. Aside from the obvious series of wage subsidies, there is a myriad of resources and support available for businesses. Use them!

It may not just be financial hand-outs that get you through either, sometimes it’s just some sound advice on how to manage through this period and implement strategies that ensure you will.

Detailed information can be found here on the TIA website in regard to support options.

5. Use resilience strategies

If you can remain positive, look to the future, and put in place strategies to get your business through then you will feel better, your confidence will flow to your team, and you may find business will tick along enough to maintain things.

Focusing on what you CAN DO is a much healthier approach to crisis rather than the negatives of what you CAN’T CONTROL. Check out this podcast from Michelle Caldwell with some great tips and insights on resilience strategies specific for tourism businesses.

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