The business disruptions, closures, cancellations and postponements triggered by the coronavirus, along with the rampant fear, instantly cost companies billions of dollars. Yet as awful as this crisis has become, it represents an important opportunity for companies and other organizations to engender long-term loyalty, support and appreciation.
For example, when the International Powder & Bulk Solids Conference & Exhibition trade show was postponed to the fall, it nullified the impact of pre-show advertising. Very few of these advertisers can find fresh money to run their ad campaigns a second time at a later date to support the trade show investment. Informa, the show organizer and publisher of the trade magazine Powder/Bulk Solids, was in a corner with magazines already printed in support of a postponed trade show. They decided to re-run ads from the March pre-show issue in the new, August pre-show issue – at no charge to the advertisers.
This is a significant show of support and a demonstration that as small businesses, we’re all in this together.
Most other companies are in similar positions. But will they do the right thing for their clients and customers? Companies in the travel industry, among the hardest hit by the virus, have come up with a mixed bag of responses. Royal Caribbean offered full refunds for anyone who wanted to cancel their cruise right up to the last minute before sailing, completely ignoring its own terms and conditions. Conversely, a major travel insurance company refused to pay up, claiming a virus isn’t covered – that separate pandemic insurance was needed.
Many eastern ski areas, already suffering through a terrible winter, have decided to close up shop for the season – nearly a month earlier than usual – leaving their customers stuck with unused, pre-paid lift tickets set to expire at the end of this season. The smart ones with a long-term view will allow these lift tickets to rollover for use next year and earn lasting goodwill. One can only hope…