In a recent survey conducted by travel booking management site WeTravel, 70% of travel companies stated that they would be rescheduling all pre-booked tours for October 2020 or later due to the COVID-19 global health crisis.
The survey consisted of WeTravel clients and sought to determine how heavily the ongoing coronavirus pandemic has impacted their companies.
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The study is based on over 590 responses from companies around the world. However, a majority of those who answered were US-based travel companies that provide multi-day international tours for both small and large groups as well as individual travellers.
A little less than 90% of participating companies employ 20 people or less, “making them representative of small to medium-sized businesses,” the survey states.
According to the data, nearly 75% of respondents have been in operation for over five years, meaning that the coronavirus pandemic has effected already-established businesses as well as those just entering the industry.
While some indicate that they began to feel the negative impacts on their businesses starting from early to mid-February, little less than half of the participants pinpointed mid-March as the “major tipping point” of when their companies began to feel the influence of the pandemic on their business.
Since then, more than 60% of them have cancelled between half and all of their scheduled tours and excursions.
“Translating this into what it means for revenue in 2020, over half anticipate a decline of 50% when compared to 2019,” the survey explains. “Ten per cent of companies even predict a decline of more than 90%.”
However, some tour operators are optimistic about the future of travel.
According to the data, a majority of companies are confident that travel will resume in Fall 2020, with roughly one third having rescheduled trips between June and September. Additionally, close to 40% have scheduled dates between October and December.
The rest anticipate delaying their tours until 2021 as they continue to observe the situation as it progresses.
As well, a majority of tour companies are trying their best to remain as flexible as they can be when it comes to issuing refunds for trips and bookings that have been cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Almost half of the companies have processed refunds to their customers, the survey states, while 27% are awaiting refunds from their vendors.
Contrastingly, just 39% of vendors are permitting refunds, with 11% unwilling to issue refunds or reschedule bookings at all, much to the detriment of travel companies.
To compensate, some businesses are providing refunds in the form of travel credits to customers as well as “negotiating longer time frames to come to a resolution,” the survey explains.
In terms of longer-term outlooks, when comparing how participants feel about how travel will play out in 2020 as compared to 2021, more than half of respondents possess a pessimistic outlook for the latter half of 2020, while only 10% remain optimistic.
When inquired as to how long they believe it will take for the industry to recover from the negative impacts of the coronavirus pandemic, 44% stated that they think it will take between six and 12 months.
“This sentiment is reflected in their reschedule dates and general outlook for the coming months,” the survey states.
All in all, the travel industry has suffered significant blows across the board as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, with 56% of respondents anticipating substantial annual revenue declines for 2020.
With how unpredictable everything is at the moment, it is difficult to accurately determine when conditions are expected to improve to the point where travel is once again permitted. It is also uncertain as to when customers will feel comfortable enough to plan future trips.
Unfortunately, at this point, only time will tell.