We have invited a few Vendéen small business owners to discuss how they are coping with the pandemic.
In this installment, please allow us to introduce you to Anne, private driver and proprietor of Melkhior, who has used recent weeks to work on building passenger confidence post-quarantine.
More recently, in March, I was being hired to travel longer distances than normal, mainly to repatriate French people from abroad who were unable to return by plane or train… that is until, the lock-down began in light of the corona virus epidemic.
Then, cancellations arrived one after the other. Companies suppressed their travels and individuals stayed at home during this paralized month of April. Summer events such as weddings, gatherings, and concerts where I am to ensure a navette service (shuttle service between different places during an event day), all of which need a high level of organization, are also cancelled as of now because of the actual climate of incertitude and the last declarations of our government.
The sudden appearance of the worldwide outbreak this spring has a deep impact on the travel industry. It is an unexpected event that will remain worrying for us all into the future so we must adapt our business and reassure our customers about hygiene rules.
Private transport allows a much better result on this subject than public transport of course. When we transport several people together in the car, it's always members of one family, friends, or several collaborators or customers of a same company. A recent official decree also forbids the front seat to passengers and recommends a constant ventilation by an open window. We remain very adaptable and watchful to keep our knowledge up to date about the virus itself and the measures we can adopt against its propagation.
The confinement is an adjustment period, just the time to set up new automatic responses about disinfection, social distancing, protective masks, and gloves, spacing between two bookings etc. Melkhior also adds the possibility to cancel your booking for free if needed (in case of the unexpected during this troubled time.)
A new way of payment is also available from now on in addition to contactless payment, it becomes possible to pay via payment links directly sent on your own phone. We have found this to be a safe option for both parties. Once I’ve sent the one-time payment link to my customers, they enter their card details independently and none of their information is stored locally. As soon as they send payment, the link is deactivated. No physical contact at all with the card reader, more peace of mind !
After isolation, I believe we will feel an obvious need to reconnect with each other.
These are new perspectives to do business. The extra measures will affect our budget. For now, the government support for independents helps a lot. Difficulties could arise from June on because of a compromised summer season. But I don't want to increase my prices because of a possible economic crisis that may follow the sanitary crisis. We must hold on and stay united.
To integrate these new services is a part of our daily life. It is the new normality for a long while, I suppose. This summer will be a test period during which we have to be very disciplined to avoid a second wave, even if we can get back to a Covid-free world faster than expected.
Time will accelerate again, space will expand again, it is just a matter of timing things right and participating, each in his field, now including the steps that such an experience as a pandemic brings.
In my own domain, my goals and my efforts are focused to reduce sanitary risks and legitimate anxiety around Covid-19. Fortunately our sweet Vendée is less impacted than other areas… perhaps thanks to the very qualities that make this beautiful area in France so attractive : the sea air, wide-open spaces, and the professional conscientiousness of the Vendéens!
MELKHIOR chauffeur privé
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