Terror attacks can terrify customers, even those who have not been directly affected. Perceptions of safety are clearly impacting global tourism, but trips are being changed – not canceled.
Today, research and data analytics allow us to monitor and measure tourists’ perceptions of the safety of a destination in real time and with more accuracy than ever before. By understanding what travelers’ perceptions are, we can start to build strategies that encourage them to continue traveling
Reassure Destination Safety
Remind them the value of seeking an expert
Instead of letting rapid-fire negative headlines from a Google search impact your customers’ perception of safety; bring your travel expertise to the forefront. Reassure your travelers that their itinerary, selected suppliers, and accommodations have all been vetted and secured. Also, be sure to notify them of any information they may need in the event of an emergency– like the location of their embassy, emergency phone numbers, and their insurance policy coverage.
Be Transparent about the possibilities
While we are constantly keeping an ear and eye out for world events that affect our customers, we can’t assume that all travelers have done their homework on the current political climate of their destination. The truth is, some travelers who are seeking travel advisors are looking to cut down to one information source—you. Being transparent about possible dangers and assessing the risk of a destination, when framed properly, can ease those going to a destination where there is some cause for concern.
There are plenty of resources available to keep yourself and your travelers aware of travel alerts and warnings related to their upcoming trip, like:
- U.S. Department of State
- The World Health Organization
- U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
- Information on Zika or other insect-transmitted viruses
Don’t press too hard on the numbers
Statistics tell us that the chances of being a victim of terrorism are slim. But terrorism, while a physical act, takes a bigger toll on the emotions and sentiments towards travel itself. It invokes fear in the minds of customers—making them believe the one-hundredth of a percent chance of something happening could very well happen to them or someone they love. They have watched over time as uncommon events occur in very common places, and have come to expect that the unexpected is a very real possibility.
Instead of slamming hard on the facts, incorporate information between more emotional appeals and only use data that makes the case for your specific traveler.
The best way to boost confidence and calm fears is through a travel insurance plan that offers protection against foreign or domestic terrorism.
Reassess Vacation Plans
Understand the perception behind cancellation
You wouldn’t advise canceling a trip to Palm Beach because of an incident in Jackson, Florida would you? How about canceling a honeymoon in Santiago, Spain because of an explosion in Malaga? If your customers want to cancel a trip based on things they have heard in the news, from friends, or social media, take a moment to understand their reasoning and help them assess the real danger. The air quality in Saudi Arabia can very well be just as damaging as the smog in LA.
Bring the adventure home
Some world events are enough for travelers to reconsider their plans, and that’s okay. When customers are wrestling a decision between traveling to a destination with a climate of conflict and canceling their entire vacation plans, travel advisors can suggest another option entirely—changing the destination.
As customers are becoming more inclined to travel within the U.S., there’s an opportunity to present your worried travelers with an itinerary that still experiences beautiful waterfalls. Only this time they’ll be underneath the Havasu Falls in Arizona instead of the Iguazu Falls in Brazil.
Own the narrative
The Rwandan civil war ended 20 years ago and is now one of the safest tourist destinations in Africa. However, global media and Hollywood have helped to keep the perception of danger alive.
Part of the reason people believe what they do about traveling, especially towards locations affected by terrorism, is due to the media.
Social media, in particular, can add to travel fears, spreading bad news faster and farther than most mainstream media channels. And depending on the travelers, it can become the deciding factor in their assessment of safety.
As travel advisors, we are in a unique position to use our expertise to calm the fears of the public through these channels by sending messages that do not incite fear but instead redefines the conversation of tourism across the globe.