Intermediaries who offer more transparency in their information and policies will be at an advantage in terms of restoring consumer confidence, according to a press release from data and analytics company, GlobalData.

Issues surrounding refunds, booking policies and the management of workforce have all come to the fore, and agents or operators who are not clear on all these subjects have faced public scrutiny. Travellers are also likely to have more of an interest in how an intermediary is dealing with the impacts of COVID-19, with additional information regarding health and safety, screening protocols and quarantine procedures becoming more important.

Johanna Bonhill-Smith, travel and tourism analyst at GlobalData, said: “In order to service future demand and ensure consumer satisfaction, intermediaries will need to be flexible and transparent regarding their future planning. A group of negative customer experiences during the pandemic now holds the potential to cause long-term damage to a brand’s credibility.

“The majority of operators and agents have had to adjust the booking policies to offer more flexible alternatives to cope with mass refunds – some of these adjustments may be implemented permanently, as a change in consumer demand means that travellers require more flexibility going forward. A company that maintains a flexible booking policy will undoubtedly be at an advantage over one who changes this as travel demand starts to return.”

Johanna added: “Time spent browsing social media has significantly increased during the pandemic; 41% of global travellers are doing this more now compared with pre-COVID-19. This means that tourists are more connected than ever before and a bad reputation or review can spread rapidly. Hence, effective online reputational management is critical to keep brand credibility intact.”