Destination health and safety certification gives confidence to agents and travellers

Destination health and safety certification gives confidence to agents and travellers

The ability of tourism destination to build a climate of trust will be key to the relaunching of international tourism. Specifically, tools such as health certificates issued by the destination, flexibility of booking and cancellation policies and offering new products to meet new needs are among those most requested by tour operators and agencies. This is the main conclusion of the latest study carried out by Travel Consul, the leading international tourism marketing alliance, which, has carried out the second wave of its worldwide survey to over a thousand agents and tour operators regarding the impact of COVID-19 on tourism and the prospects for recovery in travel intermediation and distribution.

The results of the second wave of this survey, in which Interface Tourism participated as an Travel Consul member agency in Spain, have underlined the positive effects of health certificates, travellers’ preferences and advance bookings for international travel, among other trends that we outline below.

An X-ray of the sector in Spain

Almost half of the respondents are currently under a temporary employment regulation scheme or furlough, while one out of four are self-employed. Up to 12% of the professionals surveyed have had to lay off most of their staff to deal with the crisis triggered by the pandemic which has resulted, often, in the cancellation or delay of travel.

Spanish agencies have had to adapt their business models rapidly, which has meant that, since the end of the confinement measures, domestic bookings have increased between 10% and 20% in one out of four Spanish intermediaries.

According to this study, if Spanish agencies, tour operators and intermediaries do not receive public support or aid, their survival will be at risk: 40% recognise that they can only sustain their business for up to three months and 38% will be able to do so for another six months.

Health certificates, key to the recovery of destinations

As in the first wave of the survey, the data shows that the introduction of health and safety certificates are, for almost 60% of participants, the most important action that destinations can implement to boost intermediation, followed by marketing campaigns for consumers, providing relevant information or centralising data for business partners.

As the agents and intermediaries surveyed explain, the fact that destinations have health and safety certificates is the most relevant aspect for travellers when considering a destination (74%, 70% for Spanish travellers), along with government management of the pandemic and the price, which are in second and third place respectively and are aspects to which Spanish travellers are also very sensitive.

Creating new products and reinforcing customer service, the Spanish commitment

During the third quarter of 2020, the measure most implemented by agencies and tour operators, both in Spain and in other markets, was to adapt the business model, an option chosen by almost half of those surveyed. Training programmes fell by 11% compared to the first wave. This is due to the fact that the first wave took place in May during the lockdown when most companies chose to use the time to train their employees and participate in webinars. Now, having overcome the initial paralysis, businessmen in the sector are having to take action by dedicating themselves to other measures such as reinforcing customer services (which in Spain represents 42%), designing new products (45%, 48% in the case of Spain) and improving tourism proposals (35%, 33%).

Travellers prefer to travel alone and stay in hotels or resorts.

With the drop in the family tourism segment, and especially the multi-generational one, the interest of the issuing sector increases, both internationally and in Spain, in targeting the single trip segment (66%), for stays in hotels and resorts (64%) or in all-inclusive accommodation (60%). There is also an increase in demand for self-catering holiday rentals, trips in groups of between 8 and 15 people, and fly-and-drive.

Half of the international bookings are last minute.

According to the tour operators surveyed, travellers are divided between those who are waiting to decide when to travel (48% worldwide, 36% in the case of Spain) and those who book international trips less than a month in advance (21%), a percentage which reaches 54% in Spain. The figures show that last minute bookings are increasingly important for European travellers (35%), while 34% of American customers book from seven months to a year before departure.

Flexibility, positive for intermediation.

According to the data from this study, 45% of the intermediaries, agents and tour operators consider that more flexible policies for cancellation and modification by suppliers are having a positive impact on their businesses. This percentage rises to 55% in the Spanish market.

The industry associations are the source of baseline information.

Tour operators and travel agency associations continue to be the preferred source of information for obtaining reliable references during this crisis (64%, 80% in Spain), in addition to the destinations’ tourist offices (40%). The consultations between colleagues and industry professionals (35%) rose from fifth to third position as a source of information in this second wave of the study. In Spain, customer feedback (40%) and information published by the media (38%) are also considered valuable information by the industry.

Social networks, key to marketing plans for recovery.

The use of social networks is the preferred marketing action of those surveyed, both international and Spanish. Seven out of ten agents stated that social marketing was fundamental to their commercial strategy, followed by actions in the digital and sales field.

From cancellation to insurance, priorities for recovery.

As in the first wave of this survey, 70% of respondents believe that changing cancellation policies or booking´s terms and conditions will be among their top commitments for the remainder of 2020 and for 2021. An addition, 12% of agents and tour operators said that offering insurance policies should be part of their value proposal to travellers. In the case of Spain, the agents attribute importance to other strategies, such as diversifying the offer and expanding their communication channels with customers.


Christopher Pomeroy


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