COVID-19 has dramatically changed the way people think about international travel and even when a vaccine is approved, people will still be wary of international travel
In August 2020, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) conducted a passenger study which reveals travellers’ concerns during COVID-19. Some 58% of those surveyed said that they have avoided travel and 33% suggested that they will continue to avoid travel in the future as a continued measure to reduce the risk of catching COVID-19.
Governments across the globe are primarily responsible for restoring confidence in travel, however, the travel industry has a level of responsibility too.
VisitBritian introduced the ‘Good to Go’ mark in June, a UK-wide industry standard and consumer mark to provide a ‘ring of confidence’ for tourism as the sector works towards reopening. All businesses across the sector can join the scheme providing that they complete a self-assessment which includes a checklist confirming they have necessary processes in place.
It’s great that there is now an industry standard and consumer mark available, however, rebuilding trust goes far beyond this. So, what more can we do?
If there’s anything useful we have learned from the government this year, it’s that lack of transparent communications is the best way to confuse a nation and lose public trust.
Travellers are asking questions like; is it safe to travel? Are there flights available? Should we really be going abroad? What are the self-quarantine rules? Is travel banned? Questions that should be easy to answer but due to ever-changing rules and ambiguous messages, there is no straightforward answer.
Whether you are a travel agent, tour operator, MICE, wholesaler, hotel or tourist attraction, the most important thing you can do just now is provide your clients with transparent communications about what you are doing to protect them.
Consumers are hungry for information. A survey by PWC shows that almost 85% of consumers said their travel decisions will hinge on communications they receive from hotels and airlines about safety.
At Best of Scotland Holidays, we have continued communicating with our partners by sending our weekly e-newsletters. Our terms and conditions are clearly visible on our website detailing agreements of our holiday contracts and have been updated accordingly.
Rebuilding travellers’ trust requires a deep understanding of their needs and desires to ensure the industry exceeds new expectations. Once the travel industry really understands how travellers’ habits and expectations are changing, the industry itself can begin to adapt too.
This might mean seeing travel agents and tour operators developing new products and packages to offer greater choice, flexibility and a stress-free customer experience. As for airports and hotels, some are already rolling out low-touch experiences by implementing new digital technologies.
How can we understand travellers’ needs and desires? There is already lots of research on consumers expectations, attitudes and behaviours towards travel during COVID-19.
Partnerships within the travel industry have always been essential, but more so than ever now. Working together, we can continue to make improvements whilst sharing risks, responsibilities and resources. Developing new products, packages, procedures and technologies can only be achieved through the industry working as one.
Our business at Best of Scotland Holidays is based on partnerships with the travel trade overseas. We are continuing to work with our partners to put together new holiday packages with national guidance, including social distancing and cleanliness protocols in place.
Best of Scotland Holidays is now offering clients who have booked through us the option to reschedule their holidays with their current deposit for up to the end of 2021. We hope that this also offers reassurance over our clients’ money and bookings.