Making the Best of your Time in these Uncertain Times.

Thoughts from Helen O’Leary on how to motivate and harness your team to do good work now.

As my colleague Máire reminded me yesterday with an uplifting WhatsApp message, in these times where so much is out of our control, what is within our control is our reaction to the situation.  How we react now, with our colleagues, our customers and our families will be key to how we not only survive these coming weeks but also how we can thrive when our new normal returns.

With that in mind, here are a few things to consider:

Leadership matters. Now more than ever before. Whether you are General Manager, Business Owner or Department Head, shoulder your leadership mantle and decide what action you will take. The only mistake to make now is inaction.

Harness your teams. For those of you who have kept skeleton staff or have key team members still working, now is the time to really consider what work can be done now to set you up for success.

Think about what approach to your customers you want to adopt now, never before have reputation and relationships been so important. This will stand to you when demand returns to the market. Leverage your social media and communicate those messages to the market.

When we return to trading you will want to be able to reach your customers with the most personalised and relevant messages. You will need to stand out. Start planning!

Think now about jobs that have been sitting on the to do list for months (or years).

Maybe spend some time on your database- whether working from a PMS, a CRM, an excel spreadsheet or a bunch of business cards – getting your customer database in order will serve you well. Once you have all the information in some format, really interrogate what you see- remove duplicates, correct spellings, remove old or inactive contacts. Then segment your database based on what type of business that customer has sent you or expressed an interest in. You should have separate databases created from your overall, with lists of customers interested in weddings, leisure weekend, leisure midweek, family breaks, corporate, meeting etc. For visitor attractions, think about segmenting by schools, families, tour operators etc. Go a step further and look at this information by geographic nationality. It will give you some clues for future marketing campaigns. Get ready to use this information in relevant communications when trading resumes.

There are plenty of other jobs to be done – many of which we fail to get to in the busy-ness of our normal routines- think about a sales collateral review – are you REALLY putting your best foot forward, what might you update, amend or change? Consider your website content, so often a bugbear of the busy – now really is the time to get working on all those pages you will need later in the year – Summer, Halloween, Black Friday (Green Friday!) or Christmas. Leave them dormant but have them written to save time and allow you to be more responsive when trading resumes.  Update your general content, ensure it speaks to your USPs, source new images (online) and align your messages to the needs of your target segments.

What about diving into your customer analytics?

Really investigate who is searching for you what do they want to book, where are they coming from? Consider creating packages and offers which might be relevant when you reopen your doors.

Creating lists of target organisations, account management plans and return to trading plans are also really great initiatives to get started or to update if already in place. The corporate landscape is changing at a rate of knots and we can only guess who will be the winner at the end of it- so make sure you know who will be at the forefront of your sales focus in the future

So whether you are a team of two or twenty, there is an opportunity to make the most of this pause in time – it occurs to me that time is a commodity of which we have all been very poor of in the past and it has now been dropped into our laps, so-  strategize, discuss, reconsider and step back- maybe reimagine your business offering, some new product development or even just use this time to stay in touch and continue to build (on a human level) your relationships with your customers, partners, suppliers and friends.

Stay safe, be well, send kindness into the world, keep your distance (and your sense of humour!) and remember to wash your hands!  

Helen O’Leary


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