Flexible flight, accommodation and tour bookings may become a basic expectation of consumers looking into post-pandemic travel, with comprehensive travel insurance earning higher priority in the purchasing process, advised Skyscanner.
This information comes at a crucial time as travellers are raring up for potential travel later this year, with stirrings in the domestic travel sector already being detected across the region.
A recent Skyscanner survey of more than 6,700 users on its website between April 17 and 19 showed that 52 per cent of consumers in Asia-Pacific “believe it will be safe to travel internationally later this year”, with 82 per cent confident in domestic travel, shared Gavin Harris, commercial director, strategic partnerships at Skyscanner.
This bubbling travel intent serves as a call to action for companies to promote flexible bookings.
Jon Thorne, director, user satisfaction at Skyscanner, stressed: “This is an important consideration right now as timelines on imposed travel restrictions remain uncertain. Guidance could change very quickly and so having flexible cover for your future plans is advised right now. Many airlines are adopting flexible booking policies to enable customers to plan a trip but have the peace of mind that if restrictions are still in place, they will not lose out.”
He raised the example of Singapore Airlines waiving all rebooking fees for tickets issued on or before March 15, 2020, for travel up to May 31, 2020. While currently a temporary measure, such policies may become a mainstay in travel bookings as they can inspire confidence in travellers.
“There will be more interest in flexible flights, airlines and OTAs that have fair cancellation and rescheduling policies. Travellers are expecting airlines and OTAs to be more flexible after the crisis and charge less – or waive the fees – for rescheduling or getting a refund,” said Thorne.
Additionally, consumers are expected to pay closer attention to travel insurance, and are “considering insurance policies more than they used to”, he predicted.
As the industry prepares for the slow but eventual pickup of travel, Skyscanner is working with airlines and OTAs to support them and update offerings in line with the changing arrangements, said Thorne.
The company has also extended free trials of its Travel Insight products for airlines, tourism boards and other travel businesses to analyse global flight search data and understand ongoing traveller sentiment in order to predict future demand and allocate capacity.