Pandemic prompts more travellers to book directly

Covid-19 has resulted in a shift in consumer preference towards booking holidays directly, instead of going through an OTA, a recent GlobalData poll has revealed.

According to the GlobalData Live Tracker Verdict Poll of 156 respondents, some 39 per cent of respondents said they would typically book directly, followed by 17 per cent that opted for OTAs and price comparison sites. The data and analytics company attributed this shift to the flexible cancellation and straightforward refund policies offered by direct booking.

Travellers prefer booking directly with providers amid uncertainty, according to a GlobalData poll

Gus Gardner, associate travel and tourism analyst at GlobalData, commented: “The pandemic has caused a significant shift in consumer booking habits.”

He noted that a previous survey in 3Q2019 showed that OTAs were the most popular booking option, followed by direct booking with a hotel or airline. The GlobalData Q3 2019 Consumer Survey, which polled 29,744 global respondents, found that 44 per cent of respondents preferred booking through an OTA, 36 per cent directly with a hotel and 34 per cent directly with an airline.

“However, some OTAs have been extremely slow to issue refunds and have received a raft of bad press as a result. This has knocked travellers’ confidence to book through intermediaries,” Gardner said.

He added: “Direct booking channels are likely to have experienced an increase in popularity due to the fragility of booking a trip in the current situation. Travellers now desire the highest level of flexibility, and it is no wonder that direct booking channels’ flexible terms, easy changes and quick refunds are winning travellers over.

“Further, the ability to make changes online places the power back into the traveller’s hands and streamlines the whole process. By booking directly, the traveller cuts out the middleman, considerably speeds up the change/refund process, and increases their satisfaction.”

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