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WhatA recent J.D. Power Industry Insight, based on a survey of 1,633 business or leisure travelers conducted March 12-13, finds that more than half of travelers believe travel suppliers are meeting or exceeding expectations on cancellation policies and that 65% of suppliers have provided a good level of information about cleaning procedures. The majority of those surveyed (60%) believe that hoteliers, cruise lines and airlines have demonstrated concern for the health and safety of the traveling public.
Why It MattersAs the industry reels from the impact and uncertainty of the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s reassuring to know that most consumers — particularly those who travel often — are perceiving the travel industry as competent, concerned and fair. The survey shows that there’s room for improvement in terms of communicating cancellation policies and information regarding hygiene on planes and in hotel rooms — so travel advisors who have proactively reached out to clients with this sort of information are ahead of the curve. According to J.D. Power analysts, “travel suppliers who score high on customer satisfaction going into a downturn will be the first to rise back as pent-up demand returns to the market on the other side of the crisis.”
This is not the time to nickel and dime customers on issues like refunds, penalties and waivable fees. This will go a long way in generating trust among customers once the pandemic wanes and travel is permissible again.
Fast Facts- Only 33% of travelers think the industry is not doing enough to help consumers protect themselves from illness while on the road. - Four out of 10 travelers believe that travel suppliers could be doing better meeting expectations related to cancellation policies. Travelers are particularly concerned about getting full refunds for prepaid (or noncancelable) flights or hotel stays, followed by the waiving of change or cancellation fees.- Lack of information has emerged as one of the biggest sources of frustration and concern for both business and leisure travelers. One in four travelers believe that suppliers are not meeting their expectations for information about how they manage indoor air quality- According to J.D. Power analysts, “consumers anticipate a beginning, a middle and an end to the pandemic, and once the lifecycle is complete, plans for both business and leisure travel are expected to be put back on the books.” J.D. Power’s Travel Business Intelligence leaders noticed similar attitudes about travel following Sept. 11, 2001. J.D. Power is suggesting that suppliers take “the long view in weathering the current storm.”
What They Are Saying“Travel suppliers have done a good job showing they are not tone-deaf to travelers’ concerns,” said Andrea Stokes, practice lead for hospitality at J.D. Power. “While the large hotel chains and airlines have focused on communicating messages of reassurance, the policies that each sector has implemented are somewhat inconsistent and downright confusing. This is especially true for cancellation policies."
“This is not the time to nickel and dime customers on issues like refunds, penalties and waivable fees,” said Michael Taylor, practice lead for travel at J.D. Power. “Our advice is to keep these policies straightforward without exceptions and qualifiers. This will go a long way in generating trust among customers once the pandemic wanes and travel is permissible again.”
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