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How to leverage Early Bird discounts during coronavirus lockdown

It might be hard to imagine now, but there will come a time when the coronavirus pandemic is over. Yes, really! There are already signs that hotel bookings in China are recovering while cruise bookings for 2021 are starting to fill too. It’s a good sign that travellers are looking ahead beyond this pandemic. You need to do the same for your business, too.  

 

Now is the time to start preparing so your business can get ahead. Offering your customers an Early Bird discount is a savvy marketing tool you can use to optimise your recovery and get back on track once things resume to normal. 

 

Why offer Early Bird discounts?  

Early Bird discounting is a powerful marketing tool. It works by offering a discount to people who book and pay early for your product. It is a way to incentivise people to commit early by offering them a discount in exchange.   

Why does this work? It is a useful tool for marketing because it benefits both parties. Your clients save money on something that they would otherwise book later. For your business, it guarantees early payment for the booking. It allows you to plan for the future, knowing you have paid bookings lined up. 

 

Why is now a good time to offer discounts?  

Given the benefits of Early Bird discounts, there is no better time than now to offer such a discount. Why? Because people who are forced to stay at home are eager to get out of the house and travel. People are also spending a lot more time online. With the promise of eased restrictions, people have already started planning activities for the rest of the year. By offering an Early Bird discount, you can capture their interest and sell them on a bargain deal.  

Use this discount as an opportunity to improve your cash flow so that you can prepare for your business’ operations once things are back in full swing. Don’t focus on filling your slots for bookings. Things will rebound when the time is right. Some short term cash flow relief and strong forward bookings will be the key to a good recovery, so you’re not left scrambling when it’s time to resume operations. 

 

Tips for Early Bird discounting success 

Done right, Early Bird discounting could help your tourism business recover faster after the pandemic. Here are some tips to keep in mind:  

  • Make the discount attractive. A lot of tour companies are not generous enough with their discount offers that they fail to attract customer bookings. Make it substantial such as 20% to 40% of the full price. The higher the discount you offer, though, the sooner the offer should expire. This creates a sense of urgency because people will want to take advantage of the deal. 
  • Promote the early bird discount offer to your email subscribers. As a business, you’ve built up your email list for years. Now is the perfect opportunity to exploit that list! Send information about your Early Bird discount offer to your list so they can take advantage of it. If you have a strong offer, they may share it among their friends and families, too. 
  • Think local. In times like this, any tourism recovery or activity will need to start local. It only makes sense to focus your marketing effort on your local market. Get in touch with your fellow operators and collaborators in your local community. Get them to help spread the word about your Early Bird discount offer. 
  • Use paid online advertising. It might seem counter-intuitive to pay for advertising during a time wherein business is slow (or when you’re trying to improve cash flow). But well-targeted online paid advertising can be the difference between an unsuccessful discount campaign and a successful one. The best part is that online advertising is so much more affordable now than it used to be, so a little investment can go a long way.  

 

In the end, no one knows your target market better than you do. Dangle a great deal in front of them, and see what happensYou’re already on the right track simply by thinking ahead.  

 

Hayden Zammit

Hayden Zammit

Hayden is the Director of Tourism Accelerator and leads tourism strategy, digital marketing and online training for small businesses.