One in two consumers say booking with a reputable travel agent or company is now more important in the wake of coronavirus.

This is increasingly important for those aged 55 and over, according to Mail Metro Media exclusive research presented at today’s Clia River Cruise Conference.

More than half of people will also be looking for guarantees from their agent or travel firm, rising to 66% for the older age group.

The implications of catching Covid or being ill on holiday is the top travel concern revealed in the research followed by companies’ refund policies.

Other issues in order of priority include staying safe in transit, emergency assistance by insurance providers, travel firms going bust, staying safe on holiday, restrictions in destinations, holiday cancelations, re-booking policies, availability of emergency assistance, staying safe at the airport, emergency assistance offered by government and changing travel advice impacting holidays.

An overall safety net is seen as being more important than before, including appropriate insurance cover, confidence in being able to get home during an emergency, good health systems in destinations as well as travelling to places not badly impacted by the virus.

The least important factor is choosing a sustainable or eco-friendly travel company.

Other less important factors include no-fly holidays, convenience of departures airport, holiday cost and getting away from as many people as possible.

Most people surveyed want travel companies to show how they are protecting customers; how to travel safely and to detail refund and cancellation policies, according to the study.

The river cruise sector is perceived to be resilient but there are worries around costs, crowding and changing rules while quarantine restrictions are a real barrier to booking.

Only 20% of people have booked holidays for next year, a third will spend longer researching trips then previously and 20% will book closer to the point of departure.

Emphasising traveller reassurance, the research said: “Short term concerns over health need to be mitigated and processes explained, particularly for 55-plus audiences.”