Our guide on what you need to know about your travel provider after COVID -19.
What questions do you need to be answered before booking?
October 2020 and we were due to be in Singapore for a travel industry conference ITB Asia 2020. COVID -19 put a stop to this and the conference instead changed to a virtual conference spread over 3 days.
There are some key takeaways from this conference that we want to share with you. We believe what was reported in the conference needs to be shared with you the traveller. We also need to reevaluate our partners/affiliates that we work with when we travel and the ones we promote to you to ensure that they are putting in place top health and security procedures to protect you. Have they changed their booking processes, do they offer free cancellation and/or change of dates, what health and safety procedures have they put in place and what insurance companies are covering you for these days?
- 1 Important Questions You Need To Ask Prior To Booking
- 2 How Can You Help The Tour Operator and Your Fellow Travellers?
- 3 IATA (International Airport Transport Association)
- 4 World Travel & Tourism Council
- 5 What is the Global Safety Stamp to Recognise Safe Travels Protocols
- 6 Other key takeaways and comments:
- 7 Tripadvisor – Travel Safe Initiatives
- 8 More Covid Information from Travel Providers
- 9 Conclusion – After Covid 19 What Will You Do
Important Questions You Need To Ask Prior To Booking
- Has the country/tour operator been given the World Travel & Tourism Council Global Safety Stamp to recognise safe travels protocols?
- Do they have clear and precise health and safety guidelines that can be clearly found on their websites?
- What are their booking conditions? Is there free cancellation or can the date be changed without penalty?
- Are their tours/flights operated in a safe standard according to government regulations?
- Do they offer contactless ticketing?
- Can you book within 4 hours of the activity starting?
- Can you read other travellers reviews online before booking?
How Can You Help The Tour Operator and Your Fellow Travellers?
- Give your tour operator feedback after completing the activity
- Write a review for fellow travellers e.g. outlining the health and safety procedures, was the booking a seamless procedure, did you have an e-ticket or was it available through an App? Was there flexibility in cancellation procedures? Did you feel safe throughout the activity?
- If you have dined at a restaurant, write a Tripadvisor review and explain the health and safety procedures that were offered to you as well as review the food and service
IATA (International Airport Transport Association)
Before we start on which companies are providing what we would like to share with you what Alexandre de Juniac, the Director-General & CEO of IATA is working on. His presentation was titled “Restoring Confidence in Air Travel Post Covid”. The three takeaways from his presentation were:
1. That all international travellers are to be tested before travel takes place with a view of doing away with the quarantine regulations that are in place in many countries. The testing should be rapid, accurate and affordable to travellers.
2. That all international travellers travel:
- safely with COVID-19 masks
- frequent hand sanitization during check-in procedures, customs, boarding and disembarking, contactless procedures
- temperature screening
- social distancing
3. Airlines and all related tourism companies need to rebuild passenger confidences with health and safety procedures and guidelines in place
World Travel & Tourism Council
Maribel Rodriguez from the World Travel & Tourism Council presented on “Global Perspectives for the Travel & Tourism Recovery”.
The key highlights from her presentation was that the travel industry must learn from the past:
- the impact of 9/11
- the impact of Sars, Mers and Ebola
That the travel industry to recover they must move to:
- put in place public and private collaborations in all aspects of travel
- put in place seamless travel experiences
- put in place strict health and safety procedures
The organisation has put in place Safe Travel Stamps with 100 destinations already in place with 90 in the pipeline.
What is the Global Safety Stamp to Recognise Safe Travels Protocols
Quoted from their website:
“The specially designed stamp will allow travellers to recognise governments and companies around the world which have adopted health and hygiene global standardised protocols – so consumers can experience ‘Safe Travels’.
Eligible companies such as hotels, restaurants, airlines, cruise lines, tour operators, attractions, short term rentals, car rentals, outdoor shopping, transportation and airports, will be able to use the stamp once the health and hygiene protocols, outlined by WTTC, have been implemented.”
Other key takeaways and comments:
Anita Mendiratta from the UN World Tourism Organisation stated that the 2019 levels of travel will not recover until 2024.
Hermoine Joye from Google has seen:
- 3 x increase in demand for staycations and family getaways
- flexibility in booking e.g. free cancellations and refundable bookings are a must for travellers
- safety procedures and guidelines in place
Dr Edward Koh from the Singapore Tourism Board spoke on Singapore’s initiative Covid 19 guidelines – SG Clean
6 takeaways from Claudio Bellinzona from Musement:
- Security for travellers
- Health & safety guidelines in place
- When pre-purchasing activities and tours there needs to be a well-informed health and security policy for tours and activities
- Customers need to feel secure during the experience e.g. smaller tour numbers, masks, hand sanitizers etc
- Free cancellation up to 24 hours prior to activity commencing
- Reserve now pay later travel experiences
The Park Hotel Group have put in place:
- digital keys
- digital menus
- clear and concise health and safety guidelines
Lost Plate Food Tours who operate culinary experiences in China, Cambodia and Portland Oregon were quick to update their website and add health and safety guidelines.
Let’s now look at some of the companies we work with and what they have now put in place for travellers.
Tripadvisor – Travel Safe Initiatives
Tripadvisor has reached out to hotels to update their listings with their health and safety procedures. e.g.
The London Marriott Hotel in Kensington has implemented health and safety procedures. Hotels that have implemented a policy and advised Tripadvisor will have the green box at the top of the hotel information.
If you access the review within the listing of The London Marriott Hotel they have included the following:
“A note from London Marriott Hotel Kensington
For your own peace of mind, this is the type of information that you should be seeking to make an informed decision on where you want to stay.
Tour Partner – Viator
We partner with Viator for tours and experiences around the world.
The key takeaways from their presentation by Ben Drew and Kristin Dorsett included:
- COVID measures are most important
- One of their most popular filters is – “good for avoiding crowds”
- 75% of global travellers when surveyed stated that flexibility in bookings is a must – Viator offer free cancellation 24 hours prior to departure and seamless online cancellation in seconds
- Last-minute availability
Their tour partners must have the latest information on their health and safety procedures available e.g. check out Tour East’s Health & Safety Procedures here
Flight Deals Partner – Skyscanner
We partner with Skyscanner for flights and car rental they have updated their website, see below. The presentation from Paul Whiteway of Skyscanner in the Asia Pacific Region highlighted the need for:
- flexibility for cancellation and changes on all bookings a must
- which airlines have put in place health and safety procedures for their crew and passengers
Their website states the following:
More Covid Information from Travel Providers
The following information is obtained from other webinars and information that we have been gathering over the last few months:
Our Hotel Partner – Hotels Combined
We are partners of Hotels Combined and when checking their website and their COVID 19 policy they have put together the following information for travellers on hotel groups policies and airline policies. You can read the article here.
Our Accommodation Partner – Airbnb
Check each Airbnb property that you are considering to ensure that they have adequate policies in place. You can also check the updated Covid policies that Airbnb provide on their website for each country.
Our Tour Partner – Get Your Guide
We partner with Get Your Guide that offer tours, activities and experiences around the world.
When you research or book a tour through them you can scroll through the details to review what health and safety precautions are in place e.g. Amsterdam Canal Cruise
Tourism Authority of Thailand
Conclusion – After Covid 19 What Will You Do
We hope our article helps you understand the current practices in place from travel providers for travel going forward. We urge you to ask as many questions of your intended travel provider so that you can make the right decision when you next travel – health and safety is the #1 requirement for future travel. Flexibility is bookings #2.
Our articles of interest:
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