Travel suppliers like travel agents and branded chain hotels are primed to reap significant opportunities in the post-Covid travel world as they retain greater levels of confidence among travel consumers in the region, revealed Sabre's new Asia Pacific travel sentiment survey.
With more than a third of travellers expecting to engage in domestic or short-haul travel in the next six months, Frank Trampert, managing director & chief commercial officer, EMEA & APAC for Sabre Hospitality Solutions said that hotels have a key role to "educate travellers on safety to put trust and confidence back in travel".
This comes on the back of the Sabre survey which shows that Asia Pacific travellers are displaying a keener interest to stick to, or make a switch to, branded chain hotels for their assurances of enhanced sanitation and use of new cleaning technologies as well as perceived greater flexibility in cancellation policies.
Therefore, ensuring the first trip for Asian holidaymakers after lockdown is a positive one will "have beneficial impacts for the whole industry", he elaborated.
Although the hospitality sector has traditionally been a laggard when it comes to innovation and adoption of new practices, hotels have proven to be quick in their response to the coronavirus and improved standards arising from the pandemic will have longer-lasting impacts across the industry, said Trampert.
Accor, he pointed out, is a great example of an international branded hotel chain partnering with third-party experts to implement hygiene protocols across its properties. "The new currency for loyalty is trust," Trampert remarked.
However, cutting prices may not be the answer for travel suppliers to entice demand as travellers are swayed by relaxed safety protocols, such as the absence of 14-day quarantines or contact-tracing measures, rather than price when they want to book their next trip, he pointed out.
The survey also revealed that travellers perceive air travel to be the riskiest mode of travel, so airlines should not only look at price cutting strategies but implementing safety precautions in place to revive confidence, shared Todd Arthur, vice president, Asia Pacific, agency sales travel solutions, Sabre.
Furthermore, the wide ranging post-Covid safety protocols implemented across the travel sector also underscores the value of travel agents more than ever when travel resumes, he elaborated.
The Sabre survey has found that more travellers are expected to book their trips through a travel agent, even for those who previously booked their trips independently. Of those surveyed, 68% said they foresee booking their next holiday through travel agencies to save the hassle of pre-travel research.
Herein lies "significant opportunities", stressed Arthur, for travel agents in the post-Covid world to provide additional services and offer guidance to travellers to navigate the sea of information pertaining to pandemic concerns surrounding airlines and hotels as well as travel restrictions currently in place.
"There are unevenness in travel policies, so travel agents can help to manage that and provide a valuable policy [for travellers]," he added.
Arthur continued: “Our findings show that, while consumer confidence in the safety of travelling is mixed, there is also a clear pent-up demand for travel among many people across Asia Pacific, as well as strong opportunities to be seized by all sectors of the travel ecosystem as we move forward.”