Does the travel industry have its own ‘load shedding?’

Here in South Africa, we quite often experience periods when we have no electrical power for possibly even long periods of the day and into the night. It can mean a sudden switch off of the lights and power at night (Little wonder that the habit of ‘braaing’ – or barbeques – is a national pastime) and more worrying, a total shutdown of some smaller businesses in the day who don’t have the resources to install backup power facilities.

These periods of performing routine maintenance on some of the, unfortunately, more run down facilities are fondly referred to as ‘Load shedding.’ I’m not sure who initiated the term, often used quite derisively by the locals, but surprisingly in some cases, with some fondness! This got me to thinking of the remarkable natural resilience and the natural tendency for the human spirit to lift itself out of (excuse the pun) its darkest hour!

Does the travel industry load shed?’

It also got me to thinking of whether the travel industry has its equivalent of ‘load shedding’ or more simply put, it’s ‘dark days’ and whether we as professionals in the industry handle such a period, if it exists, like those who complain about load shedding, or those who shrug it off.

Well having done a little research and looked around a bit, it appears the consensus is that the dark days of the travel industry are exactly what we are experiencing right now – the dreaded period after the holiday season until Easter when everyone seems to have simply exhausted their travel funds. This year, with Easter being so late, that will take it right up to mid-April.

How do we see the light?

As I see it though, there is light at the end of this dark tunnel and plenty of it, because it is at this time of year that airlines and hotels offer their best rates to be more competitive! This is not a time therefore for TMCs to be taking their own vacations, but actively marketing the advantages of this slump period to both leisure and in particular corporate travellers.

What a great time to hold an international ‘get away’ conference, when Hotels globally tend to be giving the best deals and airfares are generally lower than at other times of the year.

Just as the local ‘load shedding’ spawned massive business for generator manufactures and more importantly encouraged the ecologically superior alternatives of Solar and battery operated power to be implemented, astute TMCs will recognise these ‘dark days’ as an opportunity to be innovative and offer something of better value.

Resigned travel operators won’t hold a candle to ‘Hot’ TMCs

Apart from making this the time to be doing more marketing than ever, hot TMCs may find these three great marketing tips appropriate to defeat these so-called ‘darker’ days. It’s all about installing confidence in:

Your clients – Your corporate clients, in particular, should be encouraged to use these periods as the most cost-effective times to travel. Leisure clients throughout the year should be reminded of this as a superior time to vacation.

Your service providers – Hotels, airlines and all the many service providers you partner with, should know that your company is using this time to be more active than ever in selling great packages and replacing higher prices with cut-price volume. Get them all on board, competing with each other to give you better choices to offer your customers!

Your staff – Just as many South Africans use load shedding as a positive thing – making it ‘braai’ time and romantically burning candles for light – motivate your staff by getting everyone on board with being able to offer clients better alternatives. Get them excited about adding lower-cost options for customers feeling the pinch and remind them they can still offer high-end options for customers who may not feel the slump.

Does cost-cutting mean cutting back?

If our travel industry ‘load shedding’ gets us looking at more effective ways to cut costs and offer better value then we can’t say it’s a bad thing. This is, after all, what is expected of us by our clients.

We need to remember that cost-cutting is not necessarily cutting back, but making the most of the healthy competition that exists within a highly competitive industry – especially in their ‘darker days!’


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