Madrid, Spain, June 27, 2020 / TRAVELINDEX / Travel Consul has released the results of a survey that reveals the impact of COVID-19 on the industry and the future recovery of global travel distribution.
Between 11th – 25th May 2020, over 900 travel executives (tour operators and agency owners) from the top tourism source markets participated in the Travel Consul global survey, whose goal was to get a better understanding of the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak and what is required to get the industry back on its feet.
Here are a few highlights of the results at a global level.
How destinations can support distribution partners in recovery
When asked how best Destinations organizations (DMOs) can help these travel agencies and tour operators in recovery, the number one answer was clearly “introducing health and safety certificates for agents to feel sure the destinations are safe to send their customers” with two out of three participants requesting help from the destinations. The next top three answers included marketing campaigns, presenting useful and timely data, and industry and media updates.
Clients are still waiting to decide where to travel next
Over 40% of clients, who are rebooking or showing some interest in traveling, said that they were planning to go to the destination where they had originally booked. Although, the largest percentage 46% are at a halt, waiting to see how the situation evolves before making their decision.
Marketing efforts for recovery are focused on social media
In regard to marketing activities during recovery, social media was clearly the winner with 2 out of every 3 respondents claiming that social marketing was their main concept. Digital and co-op campaigns, respectively came in second and third.
Business implications of COVID-19
Overall, distribution partners expect a 73% decrease in business volume in Q3 2020 and 60% in Q4 2020. Two-thirds of respondents anticipate being able to sustain their businesses for six months without government financial support.
Actions implemented during the crisis
Approximately 41% of global respondents reported designing new products and adjusting the business model as the main measures adopted during the pandemic. Customer service improvement and training programs ranked second.
Top communication methods used with clients
In regard to interacting with their clients during the COVID emergency, as one would expect, email leads the communications formula. Interestingly, the traditional use of the telephone was the second most utilized channel. Although gaining popularity, video conference and live chat are less than 17% of communications methods.
Tourism associations serve as primary data sources
Concerning the top three data sources that were used for information during the COVID crisis, tour operators and travel agencies associations clearly lead the pack (69% as a global average). This was followed by destination tourist offices, trade media, their own national government, and industry friends.
How COVID- 19 is changing the rules in 2020 and beyond
When asked how the role of travel distribution partners will change going forward in order to adapt to these new circumstances, 70% of the respondents believe that modifying cancellation policies or terms and conditions will be among their main undertakings. Additional strong responses were “expand customer communications channels,” and “diversify/change your product and destination offerings,” and “creating new partnerships with new buyers are suppliers.”
Loyalty with destinations and hotels and resorts is questioned
Almost 50% of respondents said that they were extremely likely to consider hotels and resorts they had never sold before. Additionally, another 37% said that it was somewhat likely they would consider other options.