How the travel industry can build trust to recover from the pandemic 

The travel industry was able to quickly and effectively adapt to the changes brought on by COVID-19. But as it continues to rebuild, travelers are privy to the industry’s regrowing pains. 

The uncertainty surrounding travel restrictions, unclear testing protocols, constant flight cancellations, and chasing down rebooking refunds have afflicted the travel industry in the wake of the global pandemic. As a result, consumers feel the need to approach travel with an extreme caution—and often, mistrust. 

This is crucial. Trust drives so many of the buying decisions that consumers make. A study commissioned by Travelport has even shown that for travel customers, specifically: 

  • Trust matters: 46% prioritize trust over everything else when selecting a travel provider 
  • Trust sells: 48% will buy add-ons, and 42% will upgrade a package if they trust a travel provider 

So, where can the travel industry begin to rebuild trust? 90octane works alongside a variety of travel brands, and we’ve found the best approach is to simply be honest! 

1. Be transparent; communicate early and openly. 

Cancellations happen. In this day and age, they’re happening more and more frequently, and there’s nothing more frustrating (even infuriating) to a traveler than a last-minute cancellation. Be quick to communicate cancellations and delays to avoid any negative feelings from transpiring.  

Transparent pricing matters to consumers, especially for consumers who are money conscious. This means NO HIDDEN FEES. SERIOUSLY. Rebooking and refund policies should be stated clearly upfront, so travelers understand what they are agreeing to.  

Keeping the pandemic in consideration, it’s important that your customers understand the vaccination requirements, testing protocols, and border restrictions they’ll face on their trip. Give them that information up front, and offer them tools and resources for scheduling tests or finding a vaccination center. 

2. Take health and safety seriously. 

Travelers want to know what you’re doing to keep them safe. Maybe this includes advanced air filtration systems, UV-light cleaning practices, reduced capacities, vaccination and testing requirements, temperature tests—the list goes on.  

Keep your eye on industry-wide developments, safety standards, and requirements, and adhere to those requirements exactly as they’re stated. Knowing you’re doing your part to keep travelers safe will give them the peace of mind needed to truly enjoy their trip. 

3. Use data to improve experience—but respect privacy! 

Using small (but important!) details based on your customers’ preferences can help you to tailor messaging, booking, and travel experiences to those customers’ needs. You can accomplish this by offering relevant discounts or packaging deals. 

But remember: Travelers have higher trust in companies using information shared voluntarily via one-to-one conversations, past booking data, or loyalty activity—not 3rd party data or social media activity. 

4. Leverage reviews and word of mouth. 

Word of mouth goes a long way—when was the last time a family member or friend went on an amazing trip and didn’t regale you with all the details when you got back? Family and friends are the most trusted source of information for travel customers. 

Brands should encourage reviews and rankings, and subsequently amplify the positive feedback. That doesn’t mean negative feedback should be swept under the rug. Acknowledge public, negative feedback, respond to it seriously, and learn from it. This will show travelers that you’re not only dedicated to quality, but dedicated to evolving your best practices. 

Trust is essential to the travel experience. Addressing any gaps in trust can help travel brands to rebuild quicker with more success. 

“Trust matters: 46% prioritize trust over everything else when selecting a travel provider. Trust sells: 48% will buy add-ons, and 42% will upgrade a package if they trust a travel provider ”