Adrian Loveridge Column – Good News for Travel Industry

All early indications are that at least one positive thing will come out of a post COVID 19 crisis for our tourism industry. So many regular visitors have been confronted, frustrated and generally challenged by the battle to secure refunds from airlines, online travel companies and tour operators, that I believe will result in a massive trend to book directly next time, largely eliminating the intermediaries from the process.

ABTA, the British travel association, while issuing guidance to its members, many companies have ignored this advice and dictated their own rules in terms of cash refunds and credit vouchers relating to monies pre-paid in good faith for flights and holidays yet to be taken.

This has left UK consumers questioning the relevance of the organization in their eyes and driven many to seek alternative recompense through their credit card issuers and Small Claims Court. Essential reading for anyone considering booking a future holiday will be the Which Publication Report on the performance of travel firms and airlines in respect to the time taken in refunding.

Several of the same tour operators have, for want of a kinder term, threatened hotels with deferred payments devoid of interest, for stays already completed, fully aware that many accommodation providers are already fighting for economic survival.

To fight back some of our hotels have been very proactive by offering vouchers directly to guests which can be redeemed for future stays.  An example is to buy a voucher at this time for say US$100, which will have an actual enhanced redemption value of US$115 or even US$125 towards a room for a chosen forward date, yet to be decided. This makes sense in a number of ways and can be a win-win for all involved.  The hotel could help reduce any borrowings they have incurred during these difficult times and therefore interest payable, while at the same time, attracting a higher percentage of direct bookings.

These will then not be subject to the substantial rack rate discounts the tour operators extract, which are often in the region of 30 or even 40 per cent off published room prices.
The guests will benefit by receiving added-value, obtaining a product which would normally cost, considerably more.

Those individuals, who may worry about the viability of the supplier (hotel or villa), can choose to pay by credit card, which has in many cases, the prospect of both earning miles towards their flight, while giving added financial protection in the case of not receiving the service as advertised.

Our regular return arrivals may also consider that the quickest way they can help restore their favourite holiday spot back to recovery, is to ensure that every very possible dollar and cent finds its way to Barbados.

This well could be a better all-round solution than risking, in many cases, further limited savings, which remain offshore for a prolonged period in the bank account of some intermediary that still owes its customers and accommodation providers, tens of millions of dollars.

7 comments

  • New TSA Security Procedures Designed to Prevent Spread of Coronavirus
    Updated regulations will reduce physical contact for travelers and agents during airport screenings
    by Christina Ianzito, AARP, May 21, 2020 | Comments: 12

    Elaine Thompson/AP

    The Transportation Security Administration has announced new procedures to keep contact to a minimum for both TSA agents and fliers who go through security screening during the coronavirus outbreak.

    While air traffic is still low — 230,367 passengers passed through TSA checkpoints on May 20, for example, compared with 2,472,123 passengers the same day in 2019 — the numbers are slowly rising as areas of the country begin to loosen stay-at-home and other restrictions.

    TSA expects to have new procedures at airports nationwide by mid-June.

    The changes are:

    1. To avoid cross-contamination, TSA officials will no longer handle boarding passes. Passengers will touch their own paper or electronic boarding passes to the code reader. They’ll also be asked to hold it for the officer to inspect.

    2. Food needs to be placed in a clear plastic bag, and taken out of other bags, before being placed in a bin for inspection. The TSA explains: “Food items often trigger an alarm during the screening process; separating the food from the carry-on bag lessens the likelihood that a TSA officer will need to open the carry-on bag and remove the food items for a closer inspection.”

    3. Passengers are being asked to be extra vigilant about prohibited items. While travelers have long been asked not to bring liquids in quantities greater than 3.4 ounces, the TSA says that it’s even more important to follow these guidelines now so officers can “touch the contents inside a carry-on bag much less frequently.” If there are prohibited items, passengers may be asked to remove the items themselves and return through security after throwing them out. Up to 12 ounces of hand sanitizer will be permitted through security, but TSA asks that it be removed from carry-on bags before screening.

    4. Passengers need to practice physical distancing whenever possible. There may be markers on the floor indicating appropriate spacing between passengers waiting in line, as well as other ways to assist travelers in physical distancing.

    5. TSA officers at checkpoints will wear face masks and gloves, and travelers are encouraged to wear face masks. TSA officers will also change gloves after each pat-down search of a passenger. Some agents may choose to wear eye protection or clear plastic face shields.

    6. Travelers should put loose items in carry-on bags rather than in bins. Keeping items such as keys and phones out of the bins will “reduce touch-points during the screening process,” TSA says.

    7. Passengers should arrive at airports with plenty of time for screening. The TSA announcement notes that while low passenger volume has allowed travelers to arrive shortly before their scheduled departure time in recent months, the new procedures and reduced staffing at airports may require extra time for checking in and screening.

    More on Travel

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    What will travel look like after the pandemic?
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  • Totally torn, rented a villa for kadooment through one of the computer sites cancelled because it was a little secluded for my wifes liking this was prior to covid all the money was returned that I had paid no problem. But I am stuck with 20 air Canada and luthansa vouchers which I have to use within two years , probably will never book ahead in future just go last minute anywhere not to give airlines my money but feel secure booking a place on line.

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  • @ David.

    Good update. However, if I may add.

    All hotels in Barbados should seriously look at the prospects of an all inclusive package with noticeable rebates. Those European/North American tourist who has chosen BDS as they place of tranquility will absorb the Gesture.

    We the people of BDS will continue to show the tourist who come to our shores, the due dignity & respect…It speaks volumes..

    Liked by 1 person

  • Robert B MacDonald

    Adrian: I hope Barbados returns to accepting tourists as soon as they can safely. Some of your suggestions are innovative, however I wonder of the viability. You speak of using credit cards paid directly to the hotel rather than the tour operator, however, would not the same guarantee offered by the credit card apply in both cases? I would think that the discounts offered to tour operators would be on a sliding scale based on volume, if they are not, perhaps the hotel association should be counselling its members to present common terms to the tour operators.
    You suggest direct bookings and prepaid discounts to individual travellers, it is a great idea, however, the marketing costs may outweigh any advantage gained. Many of the visitors to Barbados are returnees and love Barbados with a passion as is evidenced by the Fb pages devoted to the subject. In the time after Covid19, it is going to be difficult to establish a new market and is going to take money and effort, let us hope Barbados is prepared for the task.

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  • As a past frequent traveler. land, air & sea, I now have considerable reservations about pre-paying in advance for anything, fares, hotels etc. even thought these business and governments and Credit Card Companies mandating refunds for cancelled bookings. Based on this not happening in some/majority of COVID cancellations leaving purchases basically SHIT OUT OF LUCK or a voucher that is time limited and of no financial value.

    The BUYER is going to now be extra cautious in any advance purchase and indeed may consider a more desirable vacation trip where they pay as they go, knowing that the service is in hand when they hand over their cash. The stay-cation will likely become more the norm.

    Liked by 1 person

  • Not sure what to make of Sandals advertising on US networks the reopening of Antigua and Jamaica on June 18 for business.

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