Weathering the Storm: Guidelines for Managing Weather-Related Challenges in Outdoor Activities
If you are an outdoor activity provider offering experiences like walking tours or biking excursions, you are no stranger to unpredictable weather conditions. From rain and wind to heatwaves and other issues, maintaining customer satisfaction is key.
This is why it’s vital to have a comprehensive plan for managing weather-related cancellations, delays, and refunds. Your plan should encompass communication, a specific marketing strategy, operational concerns, and everything in between.
This guide will cover why you should have an inclement weather policy as well as tips to ensure you create the most seamless experience when there is a weather disruption.
Why You Should Establish an In-Depth Weather Policy
A great way to build trust with your customers is being open and honest with them from the moment they book and every touchpoint beyond. If there are consistent (or even occasional!) delays or cancellations due to weather at your business, implementing a weather policy will help you accomplish this.
A few other benefits:
- Increase customer satisfaction as customers know what to expect.
- Meet expectations with clear rules instated.
- Protect your business in case of complaints or if the customer cancels on you.
What to Include in Your Weather Policy
A well-defined weather policy is crucial for your outdoor business to run as smoothly as possible. Think about including the following points in your policy:
- Specific criteria on whether customers will receive a full refund, a gift card for the amount of their booking, or a chance to reschedule (or a mix of these options!)
- A link where customers can use online rebooking to update their reservation on their own (this also ensures you don’t lose out on revenue!)
- An official statement on refunds or credits when your business cancels due to weather or unforeseen circumstances
- Details on how your customers can easily get in touch with you if they have questions or concerns
You can also make your weather-based cancellation policies tailored to each of your experiences. This can be helpful if you also have some offerings that are not affected by weather.
Pro Tip: We recommend utilizing features like Online Rebooking or Online Cancellation refunded to a gift card so you can keep earned revenue in house while allowing customers to reschedule themselves.
Where to Share Your Weather Policy
As with any policy, you do not want your customers to miss any important information as it can cause problems in the future. We recommend adding your weather policy to multiple places to ensure it can be found easily.
For instance, display your policy prominently in your:
- Standard cancellation policy
- Confirmation emails and text messages (more info below)
- Website FAQ page
Pro Tip: For details on how to update or change your cancellation policy, or add in an inclement weather clause, visit our Help Center for step-by-step instructions.
How to Communicate Weather Disruptions to Your Customers
How you decide to contact your customers will depend on your type of business as well as how close you are to the start time of the tour or activity.
Email or Text Message
In most cases, you can simply send a canned email or text message to all customers going on your experience. Send this communication as soon as possible, but we recommend at least giving a 2-hour warning.
On the other hand, if you are canceling very close to the tour start time or have a smaller-sized group, it may be worth giving a phone call to all customers. This is a great tactic to help with customer satisfaction as it shows you care.
Use the Contacts Report to gather the phone numbers of customers who are participating in the affected activity.
Website or Social Media Announcement
If you have a full-day or multi-day closure due to weather, you can also add a banner or popup announcement to your website and make a quick post on your business’s social media pages.
Pro Tip: If weather events are a frequent occurrence in your area, create a template post for your social media pages that you can update and reuse as needed. This way, you won’t have to start from scratch each time. Canva has many options that can be saved and updated with ease.
Don’t forget to communicate any changes or updates to your tours and activities with all of your employees to ensure they are prepared for their day!
What to Do When the Show Must Go On
There may be times when you decide not to cancel your tour even when the weather is not great. When you do not typically cancel for inclement weather, you should state that your tours and activities happen “rain or shine.”
If this is your standard operating procedure, it is essential to include this in your cancellation policy in order to avoid complaints or disputes due to less than perfect weather.
To make sure your customers are in the know, you can also incorporate the following items into your bad-weather strategy.
- In your confirmation and reminder email, include a “what to bring” section with items like a raincoat, umbrella, and waterproof shoes – especially if your tours run rain or shine and the weather can be spotty.
- In your tour or activity description in the Dashboard and on your website, add a note about what the weather could be like.
- Send customers a canned text or email confirming that the tour is still on despite the weather.
- Consider giving umbrellas, rain ponchos, water, hand warmers, and other necessities to customers.
- Tell customers “Thank you!” for coming out on the experience.
Pro Tip: Using public headlines on an availability can help to inform customers about weather conditions. You can attach custom confirmation notes to public headlines to provide additional information to your default confirmation email. They can be added for single or multiple availabilities at once using the availability updater to save time.
Consider Income Stabilization Insurance
You may want to consider adding income stabilization insurance to your business to help offset lost revenue due to inclement weather. This kind of coverage can be a very useful tool to stabilize income for outdoor experiences.
To decide if this insurance is right for you:
- Begin by assessing your business’s vulnerability to weather-related disruptions and revenue loss.
- Consult with an insurance agent to understand the coverage options and limits available.
- Choose a policy that aligns with your business’s risk exposure and financial needs.
- Regularly review and update your insurance coverage to ensure it remains adequate as your business grows.
Preparing for bad weather is important to keep your outdoor business running smoothly. For any further questions, as always, reach out to our 24/7 Support team or browse additional solutions in our Dashboard guides.