Consumers want simple messages from travel companies to guide them through the pandemic, the Aito conference was told today.
Experience Travel Group’s Sam Clark said the Asia specialist was offering “Travel Now” products, which currently only meant the Maldives, and “Book Now, Travel Later”, which was “all about de-risking the product” via negotiations with suppliers on deposits.
“Clients are confused and scared and we can’t add to that noise; we have to simplify that. The more we talk about our problems, the more we just scare our audience,” he said.
Clive Stacey, owner of Discover the World, said he had simplified his brand’s offering, “keeping all the good stuff”, and had 35 different projects in progress.
“If it does not take too long to get back to some sort of normality, it will probably be a better company than when we went into it when we come out.”
Stacey said he had managed to carry around 100 passengers to Iceland and Sweden in the last few weeks.
“We had to almost force them to go,” he said.
Gemma Antrobus, Haslemere Travel owner, said there was an opportunity for agents to make sure clients were “the most fully protected, the most fully informed, the best looked after”.
“Now, more than ever, it is not just telling them about it, it’s showing them. We have to get to that point where they won’t even think about doing it themselves without our help,” she said.
The issue of charging clients for work done was also raised.
Clark said the operator was considering introducing booking fees. “We have been looking at introducing some sort of planning fee on the grounds that if you are doing work upfront, it is very difficult to refund. We came to the conclusion there is a clear way forward on that.”
However, he said there would be no imminent introduction. “At the moment there is just too much chaos out there.”