Bookings are at an all-time low and you’ve likely still got a bunch of expenses and overheads to pay for. It’s a particularly challenging time in the travel industry. Furthermore, as a tour operator, you would either have received cancellation requests, are receiving cancellation requests or are about to start receiving cancellation requests.
At challenging times like this where cash flow is of utmost priority, you need to hold onto your cash as much as possible.
If you receive a cancellation request, instead of offering a refund, consider offering to reschedule the booking for the future.
We get it, the emails you receive will vary. Some will politely request a cancellation while others will demand it, even going so far as to threaten legal action. However, even if it doesn’t seem like it, some of your customers will agree to reschedule.
So how do you do this?
It’s extremely frustrating when your customers are canceling at a time like this but put yourself in the shoes of the customer. Your customers will be acting the way they are because of fear. With travel bans and quarantines happening all over the world, there’s no doubt that they are afraid. Remember, they are probably just as frustrated as you are. They are not canceling because they no longer want to do your tour, they are canceling because of the virus. Once the dust settles, they will want to do your tour again. Understanding this will put you in a better state of mind to craft your email.
The first thing you need to do is find common ground and ensure that your customers know that you understand them, you’re listening and are finding a solution.
Nobody wants to be forced into a decision. So offer them the choice, tell them that they are entitled to their refund but offer them the option to reschedule their tour instead.
As mentioned, there is fear in the air. You need to provide reassurance that you’re here to stay and that once the dust settles, they will be able to jump on your tour.
Next, you need to express why rescheduling is the better option for everyone. Remember, the more you offer, the better your chances. You could:
Offer gratitude in advance to your customer for even considering the option. This at least reinforces them to consider the option rather than just demanding a refund.
Note: This will not work all the time but it’s a harmless way of reducing cancellations.
We have received your cancellation request. We understand that this is not the ideal time for traveling and that many people are affected and are facing difficulties at this time. As your cancellation falls within our [your own cancellation policy], you are, of course, entitled to a [your refund policy]. However, before we issue your refund, would you instead consider rescheduling your booking for a different date? One that is convenient and safe for you of course.
Here at [your company], we’re confident that we’ll get through these challenging times. It would help us tremendously if you would consider rescheduling your booking rather than canceling it.
And of course, this wouldn’t be fair unless it benefitted us both. So, if you did decide to reschedule your booking, we’d be happy to offer you [your own discount or offer] if you decide to reschedule your booking at any time in the next [your suggested time frame].
We appreciate any time you would give to considering this alternative and thank you for choosing us in the first place. However, if you still felt more comfortable with a refund, we totally understand and will get your refund issued as soon as possible.