Vaccines: Key to restoring consumer confidence
CHRISTINE JAMES, CTM
Vice President, Canada
Best Case: What do you hope will happen in the next 12 months? Why?
Understandably, it’s difficult to make a prediction with the dynamics changing daily. That said, there has been some encouraging developments that should have a positive impact on what the future holds for our industry.For starters, the launch of rapid testing at Calgary Airport to minimize the 14-day quarantine is clearly a step in the right direction and we’ve already received reports from our key suppliers that they are seeing an uptick in booking since this was announced. With the expectation that this is rolled out across the rest of the country, will of course have a broader impact on all Canadian travellers.
The CDC’s announcement of the conditional lift on the cruising ban is welcomed news to the cruise industry. The cruise lines still have work to do to prepare for their resumption to service but this will add to consumer confidence and booking trends especially for Q1 2021 and beyond.
More suppliers will adjust their commission policies to pay commissions up front at the time of deposit and final payment as opposed to making travel agencies wait until travel is completed.
The federal government will approve an aid package to suppliers, conditional to them not recalling travel agencies commissions on consumer refunds.
Finally, the most recent announcement of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine with a 90% effective rate is clearly proof that there is light at the end of the tunnel. With the hope of an early 2021 rollout, this will have a positive impact on booking trends at that time.
Overall, if the above developments bring the desired results, then this we will see a notable increase in booking activity as early as Q1 2021.
Worst Case: What do you fear might happen in the next 12 months? Why?
No one really wants to imagine the worst.
The biggest fear is that COVID-19 cases will continue to rise globally well into the new year. The rapid testing and the conditional lifting of the no sail ban will not produce desired results. Consumer confidence is not restored as quickly as anticipated.
Suppliers do not receive the aid package from the federal government and continue with the recall of agency commissions.
As a result, we do not see a significant uptick in booking trends until into Q3 2021.
Expected Case: What do you realistically expect to happen in the next 12 months? Why?
I truly believe that the Pfizer vaccine announcement will have a positive impact on our industry and will go a long way in restoring consumer confidence in their ability to travel safely.
I am also very confident that the rapid testing at airports initiative will prove successful and as we have seen already, Premier Ford is committed to rolling this out in Ontario sooner versus later.
It may take a little longer than anticipated for the conditional lift on cruising to have a notable impact on cruise bookings, however, we will see positive results.
Some suppliers have already joined others in adjusting their commission policies in favour of the travel agencies and more will follow suit which of course will help support financial viability of travel advisors until business returns to more normal trends.
Based on a conservative estimate, we may not see a notable increase in booking activity until early Q2 2021.