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Refunds ‘more of a priority than low prices’ for travel booking since pandemic

Almost three-quarters of UK holidaymakers perceive instant refunds to be the most important factor when their travel is cancelled or changed.

In addition, 76% agree that prompt refunds are key when booking travel since the pandemic.

Transparent (84%) and flexible travel booking policies (80%) were cited as key considerations for travellers when booking their 2022 holidays, according to a new study which sampled 1,000 British consumers.

Almost a third (22%) are willing to spend on average £40 more when booking their holiday for guaranteed flexibility.

Nearly half of consumers (42%) cited low pricing as their top deciding factor when booking travel prior to the pandemic.

However, flexible booking options (38%) and clear cancellation policies (35%) were among the key considerations listed for those planning to book travel since the Covid crisis.

UK consumers are still planning to travel, despite ongoing uncertainties, with 30% aiming to travel internationally two to three times and nearly half (40%) two to three times domestically. 

But more than half (61%) admitted that travel companies need to win back their trust after experiencing inflexible bookings since the pandemic.

And 68% now review the small print when booking travel, highlighting that consumers are still apprehensive about ensuring there are financial protections in place, the poll suggests.

Mike Parkinson, director of travel at global payments firm Trustly, which carried out the research, said: The past 18 months have seen British holidaymakers become more apprehensive about ensuring there are processes in place to get their money back, and quickly if things go wrong.

“As demand for greater reassurance, transparency, and flexibility grows, there’s a real opportunity for travel companies and operators to gain customer trust by showcasing their commitment to offering more flexible options if something goes wrong.

“Without that guarantee, many holidaymakers will not be willing to part with their money until they receive something in return.”

He added: “Travel operators have a responsibility to ensure holidays are accessible to everyone.

“Flexible policies, clear procedures and information will be critical to giving Brits the confidence they need when making travel plans”.

The results came as UK business advisory and investment practice ReSolve reporting an “influx” of travel-related companies seeking advice on their options due to Covid travel restrictions.

Managing partner Mark Supperstone warned: “With the recent news of the new Omicron variant, the difficulty looks set to continue.”

He pointed out that the firm has helped four travel companies so far this year, including selling the brands and assets of Go Travel, VIP SKI and Travel Day Limited.

It also recently assisted in the successful solvent sale of a well-known but unnamed travel agent, “ensuring the company was able to continue operating and all staff were able to return to work”.

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