Published on Thursday, April 2, 2020

Why one travel start-up believes it will thrive in the coronavirus crisis

Tom Harding, co-founder of Nemo Travel, believes his 'young, innovative' travel start-up is well-placed to cope with the impact of the coronavirus crisis, and even thrive. He believes travel companies who keep calm heads and adapt will prosper. Here he explains why...

Remote working
We do not have large overheads and office space, a real bonus in times of uncertainty and a chance for us to be agile and adapt to these uncertain circumstances. We usually base ourselves from a co-working space but now, like everyone else, are working from home which was an easy transition and within hours we were able to get on with dealing with any client issues, new bookings and future planning. Most companies have remote policies in place these days, but those that do not are using up valuable resources and time to work out how their business can operate as normal if staff are working from home. I think this whole situation will change a lot of company policies indefinitely so they are not left unstuck again. We are also relieved that we do not have a huge sales team in place for the next few months, our digital approach to travel planning works well as a shop window while would-be customers browse without the feeling of commitment.

During this time, companies need to make agile decisions and change the focus of their business if necessary. We may even look at some alternative revenue streams, from coffee table books to virtual travel tours. We are also going to use this period to work on our product and add some exciting destinations to our website. Costa Rica and Borneo are top of the list as they fit the style of trip we already offer. We also continue to develop our website and are rolling out some changes to increase flexibility on our itinerary builder, as well as refining our customer journey.

Special measures
We are lowering deposits required for future trips and are encouraging our partners to do the same. Again, this is a decision we can make and implement quickly. The industry needs to give people a reason to be confident about booking travel in the long term and hopefully more companies will follow suit. Offering discounts on our affiliate travel insurance parters will also aid this and help calm travellers' very real, long term travel anxiety. Whilst no one can be sure, we expect people to be travelling to most destinations by September and we are receiving enquiries for the tail end of the year and 2021. The issue people are having is finding the right insurance, something we are working hard to solve.

New markets
With people likely to be at home more, we see a real chance to tap into a young professional market that are very busy and might have missed us arriving on the scene. We are seeing this period as a chance to accelerate our long term goal of changing what a travel agent can or can't be for travellers. We believe that the traditional travel agency model has revolved around an 'agent' and a 'client'. Our goal is to change this power dynamic and use technology, alongside our industry expertise, to give people control over their itinerary. By giving travellers the power to design their itinerary, choosing their hotels and activities, they feel empowered and we avoid the feeling of selling trips. Our first communication with travellers is often after they have spent some time on our itinerary builder, so they already have a really good idea of what they want to do, where they want to stay and how much it will cost - no cheesy sales calls needed!

Social media
We are keeping our foot down with social marketing. With every post, we are looking to inform and tell a story. We share lots of great shots from people on their nemo trips to give a feel of what we can offer and we recently put a post out supporting our partners in Italy who are having a really tough time. We try to keep things optimistic, information and have a bit of fun whilst doing it.


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