Alternative courses of action – the recovery planning of German tour operators in the wake of the Corona pandemic – Part II

Alternative courses of action – the recovery planning of German tour operators in the wake of the Corona pandemic – Part II

14.12.2020

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From the article “opportunities and learning experiences from the Crisis – Part I” – a schematic cycle model could be derived, which is intended to show German tour operators structured action alternatives for the Corona pandemic or also for other future exceptional situations.

Note on the sequence of steps: It can be assumed that tour operators are currently between steps 1 and 4.

Step 1: Detailed analysis of the problem areas

First of all, a detailed analysis of the resulting problem areas is recommended, as this is important for further crisis management. The main task here is to identify critical areas specific to the company and to check them for the urgency of dealing with them or finding solutions. Short-term measures should include the financial situation or the development of the product range, and longer-term measures should include, for example, sales and marketing activities.

Step 2: Develop strategic and operational measures

By asking appropriate questions, strategic as well as operational measures can be derived from the fields and at the same time assigned to measurable goals. It is important to make the process as flexible and agile as possible and to incorporate digital possibilities.

An example could look like this:

Question: How long can we expect a reluctant booking behaviour (due to fear or uncertainty)?

Measure: Integration of additional services into the travel offer, e.g. a Corona protection insurance.

Measurability: 40 % of travellers take out Corona protection insurance

Step 3: Implementing measures

Once the measures have been defined and concretised, they must now be implemented. These measures can be subdivided as follows: Measures concerning day-to-day business (for example: adjustment of the product portfolio) and measures with a longer-term investment character (for example: website relaunch). These topics are often postponed during the year due to scarce personnel resources. The cost-benefit ratio should be weighed in advance, knowing that financial resources are often limited in crisis situations.

Step 4: Evaluation of measures

The evaluation of measures is indispensable for successful crisis management. This requires a continuous review of the measures and measurability targets (step 2) as well as the impact of the measures (step 3). If there are discrepancies between the objectives and the measurable success, these must be reconsidered and, if necessary, adjusted. The Corona pandemic in particular shows that the framework conditions change quickly, which is why it is necessary to flexibly adapt the defined measures and indicators

Step 5: Creation of a flexible crisis foundation

As a result of the process of implementing and evaluating measures, a flexible crisis foundation can be created, which enables group tour operators to demonstrate their ability to act through flexible, agile and rapid responses to change. In addition, an established knowledge transfer within the company (through collaboration tools such as Zoom or MS Teams) and with service partners as well as flexible working models are essential. This is also shown by the learning experiences from the crisis mentioned in Part I.

The key advantage of a crisis foundation is the avoidance of organisational issues in exceptional situations where a quick response is required. For example, the introduction of collaboration tools can take a long time. However, in crisis situations, dealing with critical issues should be a priority.

Step 6: Establishment of crisis early warning systems

Based on the problem areas, measures and the crisis foundation, company-specific, critical areas (e.g. decline in turnover of more than 50%) can be established in the form of crisis early warning systems, which indicate critical situations for the own company in good time when a new exceptional situation arises.

Step 7: Analysis and immediate measures

When a critical situation arises and is recognised by the early warning systems established in the last step, the problem areas already known from previous crises as well as other areas can be assessed according to their urgency.

The first step should be to initiate communication measures towards employees, customers and service partners to avoid damage to trust or image. In this process, information from the crisis foundation is enriched with new findings and passed on to all stakeholders. In the further course of the cycle, the second pass takes into account empirical values from previous crises, but is continuously updated with new information.

Outlook

The presented cycle is a model that was developed on the basis of theoretical findings, professional contributions and expert opinions. It is intended to serve as a recommendation and impetus for German group tour operators to better plan for crisis situations through a structured approach and at the same time to prepare for future events.

Because in every company there is a need to be flexible, agile and able to act quickly in the present and also in future situations.

The results come from the master’s thesis “Analysis and evaluation of past and current crises in the German tourism industry to develop alternative courses of action for tourism stakeholders in the wake of the Corona pandemic” by Ms Ellen Bauer (master’s student in the “Entrepreneurship and Leadership” degree programme at the University of Applied Sciences Kempten) in cooperation with Dr Fried & Partner.

Are you unsure how to establish successful crisis management in your company? We will be happy to assist you as a partner at eye level. We look forward to hearing from you.

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