The stubbornness of the government to open up its foreign travel ‘traffic light’ system is causing huge headaches for an already devastated travel industry and its millions of frustrated customers desperate to take a well earned break after such a long period of staying at home. Whilst everyone accepts that public health is of the upmost importance, many travel companies are insistent that the data they have to hand clearly demonstrates that travelling to and from many of the UK’s favourite holiday destinations will not threaten the UK Covid case rate and have no impact on the number of hospitalisations. There is as yet no integrated policy between the UK vaccination programme and the traffic light system. Boris has stated that there is a real opportunity to open up travel to those who have had two jabs, but this has yet to come to fruition. Travel bosses are calling for the government to make travel to amber destinations quarantine free for those who’ve been double jabbed, but time has almost run out to take advantage of the peak summer season.
The situation is complicated further by countries having differing quarantine rules on entry, plus Angela Merkel has recently proposed that all EU countries (to align with current German policy) should make British travellers quarantine on arrival to dampen the spread of the delta variant of Covid 19. There appears to be no easy and consistent answer and it’s arguably not surprising that the government is being supremely reticent on relaxing rules.
All this caution and confusion means there are currently only a handful of destinations on the green list (the only places that people can travel back from without having to quarantine). Travel companies therefore are extremely limited on what they can offer customers, and as destinations fail to open up, there remains ongoing cancellation of prior bookings along with compensation, re-booking and customer disappointment. It’s no surprise that research shows that a high proportion of people are happy (if not resigned) to taking a precious break in the UK this year and are focusing their overseas travel aspirations on 2022 and beyond. That said, there has been a significant increase in demand for those destinations on the green list and it’s vital that the industry maximises its opportunity across the remainder of the summer season.
many travel companies are insistent that the data they have to hand clearly demonstrates that travelling to and from many of the UK’s favourite holiday destinations will not threaten the UK Covid case rate and have no impact on the number of hospitalisations.
This is an extremely testing time for the overseas travel industry and many companies will no doubt be facing the worst in the next few months as the peak booking period slips by. The government have to act now to avoid further casualties, but in order two survive, there are two critical areas business must focus on:
- Maintaining Consumer Trust – the whole industry got it horribly wrong in the first lockdown by refusing to give customers refunds that they were legally obliged to receive under the Package Travel Regulations. Hard lessons were quickly learnt following high profile PR campaigns and widespread consumer backlash and a year on the majority of travel brands have managed to win back consumer trust through offering fair, flexible and consistent policies to help people mitigate any Covid impact on their travel plans. This has to remain the case, and may be needed for a long time yet.
- Driving Continuous Cost Efficiency – hopefully it won’t come to the last man standing, but every business has to keep asking the question where to find further savings. Government support schemes have only stretched so far and any further cost cutting options will be few and far between given the drastic measures already taken. Now more than ever is the time to wring out maximum costs efficiencies across every nook and cranny of the organisation, which is not easy when already running a tightly constricted operation.
Although times are extremely tough, it’s vital to maintain a positive outlook as holidays will always be on or near the top of everyone’s annual expenditure list and no doubt demand will be there once the new normal is found. With our extensive expertise in business management and transformation, particularly in the travel sector, Tessiant is well positioned to provide valuable support in operational streamlining, delivering cost savings and resetting future strategy to make the most of the inevitable return to overseas travel.