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In the travel arena, the expression "the best laid plans" applies all too frequently. Turmoil in many parts of the world has led some travelers to express reservation about their upcoming trips. While you can't change how your clients react to real, perceived or possibly inflated threats, you can better manage the ripple effect these changes could cause.

What should you do when customers cancel—due to real or perceived risk? 

Be proactive.
Implement clear cancelation policies and offer insurance coverage to each participant. Monitoring news coverage and regularly checking the Center for Disease Control and the U.S. Department of State websites could make a change of plans less surprising.

Demonstrate respect for the customer's concern.
It is important to develop a sense of empathy—whether the crisis is real or perceived, put yourself in that person's shoes and remember that he or she views the crisis as real.

Utilizing available facts, explain the reasons the trip will continue to operate unchanged.
By focusing on the facts at hand and avoiding speculation or guarantees, you can work within real or perceived travel risks.

Work with the group leader to adjust inclusions and avoid the area of concern.
If the crisis is likely to affect tour participants, communicate options to the group leader and let him or her be the ultimate decision maker.

Do all you can to recover the customer's investment.
If all else fails and a trip must be canceled, do your best to recover elements of the trip cost for the customer. Things like travel insurance help protect all parties involved.

Click here to read more on this interesting topic as addressed by Dan Stuby, Brand Development Manager at Bob Rodgers Travel and a member of the Groups Today 2015 Top Ten Next Gens.

Know a group travel professional making an impact on the industry with a fresh, progressive perspective? Nominate him or her for 2017's Top 10 Next Gen here

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