Industry bodies are not doing enough to ensure tour operators and travel agencies notify customers of their rights before booking. Equally, agencies who have underperformed in this regard have not been made accountable. As a result, the travel industry being called into question by BBC Watchdog will do little to reassure UK consumers’ confidence to travel in the near future, says GlobalData, a leading data and analytics company.
Watchdog’s ‘Package Holiday Pledge’ commitments allude to free amendments and cancelations to flights or holidays affected by COVID-19, in addition to the processing of refunds within 14-days. However, the initiative developed by Watchdog gives the impression that there is an industry-wide problem, which is not the case, with some agencies handling customer refunds, changes and cancelations well during the pandemic.
Craig Bradley, Associate Travel & Tourism Analyst at GlobalData, comments: “Consumer confidence is more important than ever since the pandemic. According to GlobalData’s UK COVID-19 Recovery survey* 46% of respondents were either 'extremely' or 'quite' concerned at the prospect of international travel, reflecting the public's skepticism. The involvement of a third party like Watchdog is likely to cast the industry in a negative light during a pivotal time.”
The communication between the UK travel industry and consumers is not strong enough, with customers seeking other alternatives for assurances of where to book. Had industry bodies been more proactive in ensuring customers’ rights were communicated and dealt with effectively, it may not have come to this.
Bradley continues: “Travel industry bodies need to take a more proactive approach and opt to take a more public stance on the matter, whether through television interviews or advertising. This type of promotion will alleviate some of the anxiety regarding package holiday booking. Tour operators and travel agencies can further support this sentiment via their advisory service and advertising, creating a consistent message.”
*GlobalData UK Recovery Survey Week 11 undertaken 2-6 December 2020