Research Captures the Impact of COVID-19 on Travel Distribution Partners and Their Outlook on the Future
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NEW YORK - During the weeks from May 11-25, 2020, over 900 travel executives (tour operators and agency owners) from the top tourism source markets participated in a global survey by Travel Consul, the leading international travel marketing alliance. The goal of this survey was to get a better understanding of the impact the COVID-19 pandemic has had on the industry, current needs and a view to what the future might entail. Here are a few highlights of the results:
Clients are still waiting to decide where to travel next
Over 40% of clients who are rebooking or showing some interest in traveling said that they were planning to go to the destination where they had originally booked. Although the largest percentage (46%) are at a halt, waiting to see how the situation evolves before making their decision. Amongst U.S. respondents, 51% said their clients were looking to the destination they originally booked, while 38% said their clients were waiting to decide.
Marketing efforts for recovery are focused on social media
In regards to marketing activities during recovery, social media was clearly the winner with 2 out of every 3 respondents claiming that social marketing was their main concept. That number is even higher amongst U.S. respondents, with 75% saying they would focus on social media. Digital and co-op campaigns respectively came in second and third.
Business implications of COVID-19
Overall, distribution partners expect a 73% decrease in business volume in Q3 2020 and a 60% decrease in Q4 2020. Two-thirds of respondents anticipate being able to sustain their businesses for six months without government financial support. U.S. respondents feel less financially secure than the global average. One in 3 (33%) said they could only sustain their business without government assistance for one to three months, and 28% said four to six months.
Actions implemented during the crisis
Approximately 41% of global respondents reported designing new products and adjusting the business model as the main measures adopted during the pandemic. Customer service improvement and training programs ranked second.
Top communication methods used with clients
Email leads as the preferred form of communication for tour operators and agency owners that are interacting with clients during the COVID-19 emergency. Interestingly, the traditional use of the telephone was the second most utilized channel. Although gaining popularity, video conferences and live chat make up less than 17% of communications methods.
Tourism associations serve as primary data sources
Concerning the top three data sources that are used for information during the COVID-19 crisis, tour operators and travel agency associations clearly lead the pack (global average of 69%). This was followed by destination tourist offices, trade media, their own national government and industry friends.
How COVID-19 is changing the rules in 2020 and beyond
When asked how the role of travel distribution partners will change going forward in order to adapt to these new circumstances, 70% of the respondents believe that modifying cancellation policies or terms and conditions will be among their main undertakings. Additional strong responses were "expand customer communication channels," "diversify/change your product and destination offerings," and "creating new partnerships with new buyers and suppliers."
Almost 50% of respondents said that they were extremely likely to consider hotels and resorts they had never sold before. Additionally, another 37% said that it was somewhat likely they would consider other options. U.S. respondents answered similarly to their global counterparts.
For the full report, available on MMGY Myriad's website, please click here. To inquire about a regional analysis, contact Travel Consul's North America partner, MMGY Myriad EVP Managing Director, Julie Cuesta at [email protected].
About Travel Consul
Travel Consul is an international travel marketing alliance consisting of (18) advertising, media, public relations and marketing firms spread across six different continents - all specializing in travel. With over 600 clients in the travel and tourism sector, our global team of more than 850 experts works seamlessly to implement global strategies with unique hands-on local market knowledge and industry relationships. From B2B to B2C, Travel Consul helps governments and commercial organizations.
About MMGY Global
With more than 38 years of experience, MMGY Global is the world's leading integrated global marketing firm specializing in the travel, hospitality and entertainment industries. With nine operating brands across the world, the award-winning organization maintains a global communications practice in all marketing channels, serving many of the world's premier travel and tourism brands. As a company dedicated to the global travel industry, MMGY Global strives to create a connected, inclusive and peaceful world by promoting travel as a cultural bridge of understanding. For more information, visit www.mmgyglobal.com