According to data and analytics firm, GlobalData, transparency is going to be key to providing service to future tourists.
GlobalData notes that during the COVID-19 pandemic, many aspects of future travels have been labelled as ‘uncertain.’ Intermediaries offering more information and clearer policies will indisputably be at an advantage in terms of restoring consumer confidence.
It also points out that issues surrounding refunds, booking policies and the management of workforce have all come to the forefront – agents or operators that are not clear on all these subjects have faced public scrutiny.
Johanna Bonhill-Smith, travel & tourism analyst at GlobalData, observed: “This is a challenging time for all the operators and agents. In order to service future demand and ensure consumer satisfaction, intermediaries will need to be flexible and transparent regarding their future planning. Presently, the future of travel remains uncertain. A group of negative customer experiences during the pandemic now holds the potential to cause long-term damage to a brand’s credibility.”
Bonhill-Smith continued: “The majority of operators and agents have had to adjust the booking policies to offer more flexible alternatives to cope with mass refunds – some of these adjustments may be implemented permanently as a change in consumer demand means that travellers require more flexibility going forward. A company that maintains a flexible booking policy will undoubtedly be at an advantage over one who changes this as travel demand starts to return.”
GlobalData points out that more information may be considered a selling point. Travellers are likely to have more of an interest around how an intermediary they are using is dealing with the impacts of COVID-19.
Before this pandemic, the company notes, information regarding beaches, restaurants and shops will have been desired; post COVID-19, additional information regarding health and safety, screening protocols and quarantine procedures will be more important.
Said Bonhill-Smith: “Time spent browsing social media has significantly increased during the pandemic, 41% of global travelers are doing this more now compared to pre-COVID-19. This means that tourists are more connected than ever before and a bad reputation or review can spread rapidly. Hence, effective online reputational management is critical to keep brand credibility intact.”