Obviously, the current global situation has a huge impact on practically every aspect of our society. While airlines may be the first to be hit badly, this is having a negative impact on almost everyone.
Many readers have asked me what this means for both the current reality and the future of travel blogging. So I thought I would share my opinion in this post. For all those interested, I will share the current “state of the union” for OMAAT, what the current situation means for the entire landscape and what it means for the future.
This is by no means intended as a “woe to me” situation (tl; dr, we’ll be fine), but only as a few insights into this world.
We have prepared for that
The truth is we have been expecting a significant downturn in the past few years – no, not specifically in this situation, but I started these businesses during a recession and thought there would be rainy days again.
At OMAAT, we run a very, very, probably unnecessarily lean operation. While this is the most widely read travel blog that is independently owned (aka not VC based), you wouldn’t know it because of our team.
I do a lot of the writing (though I’m grateful to our contributors if they have the time to write), Tiffany runs most of the back-end business aspects, Howie manages many of the projects we work on and coordinates outside resources, and we have some great readers who also occasionally help us with some research and technical tasks. We may have more traffic annually than the world’s largest airport (pre-coronavirus), but we are not that busy.
In many ways we may not have used the good times as well as we could, but we are also well positioned to weather the bad times. I think this is largely due to the fact that it is a passion project / blog that is more of a business than the other way around.
And hell, our entire team works remotely, and since at least Tiffany and I are introverts, we’ve prepared our entire lives for self-removal. ????
The effects on OMAAT more specifically
In case you are wondering, our entire OMAAT family makes money in a number of ways, including:
- Impression-based ads where we make around a penny for the ads that appear on the website
- Affiliate Marketing, including commissions on credit cards and some other travel products (all of which will be announced if they offer us a potential avenue of income)
- Our award consulting business PointsPros
What do I expect from the real impact on us?
- When it comes to impression-based ads, our traffic has actually increased significantly over the past week. Even so, the CPM (how much companies pay per ad) is very low as nobody likes to advertise on bad news and our premium advertisers have all suspended their campaigns
- When it comes to affiliate marketing, my guess is that fewer people are likely to get new credit cards or post revenue, and that’s fine
- The hardest hit is PointsPros as almost no one is planning a trip or wanting to use miles right now
We will of course take care of our people. We have cash reserves, unlike most companies we get paid long after a service is provided (most of our agreements are NET60 plus a delay so we get paid for December this month), and we have a very small team for that Work we do.
We’re not reducing staff, and on the contrary, we’re reaching out to people who have written for us in the past to see if they want to write at the moment (since some of them have full-time positions but are not currently working), give like our great team that usually works on awards, other projects, etc. It gets more complicated for us in late summer but we’re fine right now.
So expect more of this for OMAAT. We’ve been doing the same thing (for better or for worse) for 13 years and it will stay that way. I am grateful to get up every day and write about the industry that I love so much. I would rather write about positive news and developments than about the current situation, but …
I realize we are lucky
Nomadic Matt shared his point of view on a Twitter thread talking about the situation his company is in and it’s interesting read. He has a different niche and it’s sad to see how this affects him – he’s seeing a huge drop in traffic, CPMs for ads are down, travel ebooks aren’t selling, affiliate links for tours and others Travel services are not generated notices etc.
How bad is it when traveling? Enter my office (one thread):
I started my website in 2008. It was just me I didn’t have any overhead. I just had to earn enough to travel. Fast forward to 2020. I now have 4 full-time employees and our annual business cost is over $ 500,000.
– Nomadic Matt (@nomadicmatt) March 13, 2020
I would say that for many of the “travel influencers” who seem to be the main characters making some money in the adjoining room these days, I would say it is probably similar. I’m talking about the usually very attractive people who post pictures of very large breakfasts in five star hotel beds (or we can’t forget breakfast swimming in pools!).
I imagine that these people are affected quite negatively because a) they cannot travel and b) posting pictures of your dream destinations is not exactly “in” at the moment.
Influencer, this isn’t the time to contact my hotel clients to see if you can work together. #justsaying
– Tiffany Dowd (@LuxeTiffany) March 17, 2020
Then I imagine that this has to be difficult even on some of the more “lifestyle” pages of companies with 100+ employees who rely on online ads to get their traffic. They have a lot more effort and less adaptability, and I can imagine that all of these expenses, in addition to the economic uncertainty, are very scary and stressful for these employees.
Find the right balance with future content
We will probably all self-isolate for a while and the industry will no longer recover. With that in mind, I definitely appreciate any feedback on the content you would like to see as I get in conflict.
I plan, of course, to continue addressing the coronavirus situation as it is affecting the travel industry in a way we’ve never seen it before.
But I want to cover other travel and miles and points topics for several reasons:
- I think it’s a welcome distraction from the constant stream of bad news
- This is a great time to develop your travel strategy for better times. For example, when I’m at home, I’ve spent the past few days helping my family tweak their credit card portfolio to make sure no miles are expired, etc.
- I think we’re going to see a mileage and points renaissance where airline and hotel loyalty programs re-engage members and actually fight for business, which most programs haven’t done in a long time
I always want to find the right mix of information and entertainment and look forward to hearing what you want to read about.
I realize this is a challenging time for everyone. In many ways, I appreciate that we can largely put differences aside since the whole world is going through something together, but there is no question that this will be much more difficult for some than for others.
My thoughts are with those who have been laid off (temporarily or permanently) or those who do not have the same safety net, and I try to turn those thoughts into action while we are all so isolated.
If you are able to help people in less fortunate situations, now is a good time to do so, whether it be by making a donation to your local food bank or children’s group, prepaying a housekeeper, or buying gift cards Your favorite restaurant or whatever can be done to help alleviate the impending financial crisis so many small businesses are facing.
I’m incredibly happy that I was able to prepare for something like this (as much as anyone can prepare for something like this). We will score like everyone else but we are here to stay. If anything, expect more, not less.
Thank you for reading OMAAT, we wouldn’t be here without you!