Agents are more likely to sell hotels and places they know and feel more confident about in the current climate, delegates at the Restart: Luxury Travel seminar heard.
“They [agents] will rely on tour operator partners they know will look after clients, and are likely to recommend and sell places they feel comfortable about [themselves],” Richard Dixon, director or Holidaysplease, said at TTG’s online event.
Customers themselves will also want to stick with places that were “memorable and familiar” to them, added Filip Boyen, chief executive, Forbes Travel Guide.
“They trust these places to do the right thing, and hotels to have the right measures in place and to welcome them back,” he said.
Boyen went on to say that “this is a trust crisis, and not a financial crisis” for the luxury travel sector.
“The common goal of the industry is to restore trust at this stage; we’re all in the same boat here, we need to be able to instil confidence in travellers,” he said.
He also called for more in the travel and tourism sector to publish and discuss their own measures.
“We’ve seen all the major hotel brands publish details of their protocols, but we need to see more from people like car rental companies, airlines and DMCs as well,” he said.
Erin Johnson, marketing director – Tailormade, Sovereign & Citalia, said customers wanted to know what facilities would be open, rather than the worry of actually catching Covid-19, as they would assume health protocols would be in place in hotels and resorts.
“They want to know ‘are the restaurants open and what facilities we can use’,” she said. “We’ve put out the new Travel With Confidence promise and commitment so we can offer a hub of information that shows what our trusted partners are doing and what can customers expect.”
Dixon added it was a “personal thing” as to what individuals would look for.
“As an industry, we have to respect that some customers really won’t want to travel at all,” he said. “But we do have to present things in the right way: big long lists of protocols won’t do the job either.”
Also speaking at the event, Arvind Bundhun, director of the Mauritius Tourism Promotion Authority, said guidelines of the World Travel and Tourism Council had been followed on the island, allowing it to be listed as one of the organisation’s Safe Travels destinations.
“This is going to be beneficial for all of us in terms of the protocols in place, and it will pave the way for the kind of service excellence we always want to achieve as a destination. I see a lot of efforts being made by a lot of partners.”