Impact of COVID-19 on Global Travel Distribution

Impact of COVID 19 on Global Travel Distribution
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Impact of COVID-19 on Global Travel Distribution

Travel Consul, the largest marketing network in the travel industry, has just released the results of its third survey “Impact of COVID-19 on Global Travel Distribution”, with the aim of providing crucial and up-to-date information on the progress of the industry partners in the face of the health situation.

1.292 travel executives (including agency owners, independent travel agents and tour operators) participated in the questionnaire from late January to early February 2021 in 20 countries on five continents. In South America, the Interamerican Network, the Travel Consul representative in the region, conducted the study.

Here are the main ideas and results:

Vaccination and immunity passport, key to reserve management

Vaccination Passport
Vaccination passport

A third of travel executives believe that other factors, such as destination health certifications, reduced quarantine requirements and the provision of free COVID-19 tests, will have a greater impact on their business.

Customers are comfortable making a new reservation in 2021, as travel delays exceed cancellations

Travel Deferrals Overcome Cancellations
Travel postponements outweigh cancellations

In a positive sign of recovery, 54% of customers choose to postpone their trips, against 35% who cancel. Of customers who are delaying, 50% are looking to go where they originally booked, and that number rises to 55% in North America.

When travel executives were asked what time period they had the most changes in reservations, the most popular response was the third quarter of 2021, with 24%. The rest of the rescheduling is distributed fairly evenly during the second and fourth quarters of 2021 and 2022. However, about a third of respondents said customers are not committing themselves to a new travel date.

Customers want individual travel, all inclusive resorts and hotels in safe destinations

All Inclusive Resorts
All inclusive resorts

Respondents are seeing an increase in demand for individual travel, with 41% reporting high interest in this survey (an 8% increase compared to October 2020). There is also a huge increase in queries from hotels and resorts all inclusive. The all-inclusive predilection jumped from 16% in October 2020 to 39% in the first quarter of 2021, while interest in hotels and resorts increased from 14% to 38% during that period. These three main products are followed in popularity by small groups (22%) and the flight + car rental package (21%).

Consistent with the 2020 results, customers are still concerned with the destination's health and safety certification as the main factor when deciding on a final destination. Price and access to quality healthcare systems are also two growing considerations.

Travel consultants are researching new destinations and making other changes to their business to adapt to the pandemic

Searching for New Destinations
Search for new destinations

Strengthening customer service and adjusting business models are the two main measures implemented by travel executives in the past three months in response to COVID-19, and about a third of respondents have done so.

The creation of new products became less important as of October 2020. The latest results also show that a third of respondents said they had explored new destinations.

That number has steadily increased by 5% with each new Travel Consul report, signaling to DMOs (Destination Management Organization) that this is a critical time to expand their marketing efforts towards travel consultants.

Travel consultants benefit from flexible supplier policies

Flexible Cancellation Policies
Flexible cancellation policies

The majority (60%) of distribution partners now believe that the supplier's cancellation and flexibility policies are having a positive impact on their business.

In October 2020, only 45% of distribution partners believed this. This flexible approach is certainly facilitating advance reservations for international travel, as reflected in a 7% increase reported since the October survey of new international travel booked seven months to a year in advance.

The tourism workforce can change forever

Global Tourism Sector
Global tourism industry

Globally, three quarters of respondents admitted that their employees or independent contractors are likely to leave the sector in 2021. The remaining 25% reported that this is "unlikely" to happen.

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