Global study reveals Destination Health Certifications inspire confidence among travel advisors and their clients

Travel Consul, a leading international travel marketing alliance, has released the results of its second survey revealing the impact of COVID-19 on the industry and the future recovery of global travel distribution.

During the period of September 14–28, 2020, over 1,000 travel executives (tour operators and agency owners) from over 20 outbound countries participated in the Travel Consul global survey. This second round gathered new insights related to health certifications, travelers’ preferences and international advance bookings. MMGY Global, a Travel Consul partner agency, was actively involved in this first-of-its-kind global study.

Below are the key findings from the global survey.

Destination health certifications remain key for recovery
Once again, results from the second survey indicate that introducing health and safety certifications (nearly 60%) is the most important action destination organizations (DMOs) can do to help travel distribution partners. The next top three answers include marketing campaigns for consumers, presenting useful/timely data and acting as an information hub for trade partners.

When asked what the main client considerations are when choosing a destination, the number one answer is destination health and safety certification (74%). Destination country government management of the COVID-19 pandemic and price rank second and third, respectively.

Training leads to new product development
Business model adaptation is the number one measure implemented during Q3 2020 as reported by nearly half of the respondents. Training programs have dropped 11%, with new product design (45%) and product improvement (35%) moving up the ranks.

Solo travel, hotels and all-inclusive resorts rank among the top of travelers’ preferences
Clients are showing a growing interest in solo travel (66%), hotels and resorts (64%), and all-inclusive resorts (60%). These preferences are followed by self-catering rental accommodation, small groups of 8 to 15 people and fly-drives.

International advance bookings
Clients are either waiting to decide when to travel (48%) or are booking an international trip less than a month in advance (21%). Last-minute bookings are becoming more prominent for European travelers (35%). In contrast, 34% of North American clients are booking a vacation seven months to one year before departure.

How supplier policies are affecting travel distribution partners
Forty-five percent of distribution partners believe that suppliers’ cancellation and flexibility policies are having a positive impact on their businesses.

Travel associations reported as primary data sources
Tour operators and travel agency associations remain the preferred data source during this crisis (64%), followed by destination tourist offices (40%). Industry friends (35%) moved from the fifth to the third position in this wave.

Marketing efforts for recovery focus on social media
Regarding marketing activities during recovery, social media was clearly the winner with 7 out of 10 respondents claiming that social marketing was their main effort. Digital and sales marketing came in second and third, respectively.

How COVID-19 is redefining roles and tasks
Similar to the first round of this survey, 70% of the respondents believe that modifying cancellation policies or terms and conditions will be among their main undertakings in the remainder of 2020 and in 2021. Offering insurance policies, however, saw a 12% increase.