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Comment: Clarify travel rules for customers

A lack of clarity is an opportunity for travel brands, argues Eve Satkute Stewart of YouGov

Since YouGov began tracking the pandemic’s effect on travel and tourism, restrictions have been the number-one reason preventing people from travelling.

Research for YouGov’s Global Travel Profiles shows that in June, three in five UK adults said travel restrictions were preventing them from travelling.

But a big change is in prospect with people who have had both vaccinations no longer needing to quarantine when returning from a country on the amber list from July 19.

This is exciting for those who have been fully vaccinated and have hopes of travelling abroad this summer.

The government has made several major announcements in recent months, from announcing the traffic light system and designating which countries are available for quarantine-free travel to updating its rules and removing destinations from the green list for travel.

The various announcements have brought confusion, with people discouraged from travel even where it was allowed.

In June, only a third (32%) of adults in a YouGov survey said the UK’s rules for leaving and entering the country were clear. More than half (56%) seemed confused about the guidelines and limitations.

Examining the data by age showed some key differences. Older adults aged 55 and over were more likely to say the rules were clear (36%) than other age groups. But almost three in five (58%) in this age range still considered the rules unclear.

Young adults aged 18-34 were least likely to say government travel guidelines were clear (26%). Yet younger travellers are the most likely to express a desire to travel (32%).

Travel brands can play an important role in helping holidaymakers understand travel protocols and guidelines.

They can engage with potential travellers at various stages of the consumer journey to reassure and deepen their relation with customers – from alerting them of countries available for overseas travel on the green and amber lists to ensuring they have ordered a test upon their arrival back in England.

Consider the marketing strategy of On the Beach this summer. Instead of pushing out deals on summer holidays, the online travel agent decided it could better serve customers during the uncertainty by offering easy to follow explanations of global travel recommendations and country-specific protocols.

The company’s efforts seem to be paying off, according to the YouGov BrandIndex which monitors the performance and health of brands. On the Beach’s ‘consideration’ scores have improved by 23% and its ‘recommendation’ scores by 85% this summer.

Furthermore, we investigated some of the best ways to attract the attention of travellers based on data from YouGov’s Global Travel Profiles.

Social media fares best among adults in the UK, with 36% saying advertising on social media platforms would catch their attention. This soars to 52% among adults aged 18-34.

Travel websites and TV can also be influential sources of information. Three out of ten UK adults say they notice ads on travel sites (29%) and free-to-view TV channels (30%). One in five (18%) also say they are drawn to ads on video and audio streaming services.

It’s critical to ensure the quality and clarity of travel guidelines and rules for travellers to feel reassured and in control of their holidays.

We’re still very early into the recovery period and it’s up to travel brands and travel agents to provide a helping hand where possible to keep people informed.

There is more on our latest insights into traveller behaviours and our forecasts in YouGov’s International Travel & Tourism Report 2021.

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