several bags on trolley near train in station 1170187

Send My Bag: A travel sector coronavirus case study

The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development has estimated a $1.2 trillion blow to the world’s tourism sector, but, as an international door-to-door luggage delivery service, the effects of the crisis on Send My Bag have played out differently to the rest of the sector.

As restrictions were steadily imposed across the world at the start of the pandemic, Send My Bag recorded its highest ever daily revenue with huge spikes in demands including its Italy-USA routes which saw a 1,320% increase year-on-year in March and orders from Germany, Spain, and Netherlands also rose by up to 700%, 800% and 600% respectively. Customers living abroad rushed to their home countries before it was too late or those who left countries in a hurry asked for their personal possessions to be sent home using the service. 

Although the company's customers are worldwide and use Send My Bag for different reasons, the summer months are almost always the busiest period. As such, Send My Bag is used to seasonal changes in demand, and its service can be scaled up and down. As the company experienced the initial spike in business during March, the summer plan was changed, including changes to shifts, implementing an overtime schedule and asking staff if they would like paid work during their annual leave. Additionally, automated systems were also scaled up and the business redeployed resources strategically to the international routes where need was greatest.

However, sales slowed as global travel decreased and Send My Bag used the UK government’s Job Retention Scheme to preserve jobs until sales picked back up again. With travel restrictions now being lifted and new UK and Italian government guidelines advising passengers use luggage delivery services to avoid person-to-person transmission at airport collection points, furloughed staff were re-introduced to help manage the increase in demand. 

While Send My Bag has been largely sheltered from the worst effects of the coronavirus crisis due to significant surges in demand, the travel sector as a whole may take longer to recover. Scientific evidence pointing towards a possible second wave does suggest that the sector may see another slump in sales in winter, if a vaccine is not successfully brought to market before then, and travel businesses will need to adapt.

Send My Bag invested in new equipment and a new phone system to allow the entire team to work securely from home while still maintaining high standards of customer service, and its courier partners have equipped drivers with appropriate protection such as masks and gloves and a new process to gain remote signing, helping to avoid physical contact.

As well as baggage transport, the company pivoted towards shipping care packages which have proved popular as families and friends have been separated for several months, and contributed £10,000 to an initiative which is transporting testing and PPE kit among other useful resources to frontline medics.

Trends in consumer behaviour may hold the key to guiding businesses in the sector through any cooling off period. For example, companies specialising in villa bookings have seen increases of up to 350% as travellers try to create ‘bubbles’ abroad to avoid contact with other travellers at campsites and hotels. Many travellers may also be considering car hire options rather than using public transport or taxis. Airlines have also expanded into other sectors, such as car hire and holidays.

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