Comment: Why we should be confident about 2021

After a turbulent year, Abercrombie & Kent boss Kerry Golds encourages agents to feel confident about 2021 

Few industries have felt the effects of coronavirus as we have, but I have great hopes for 2021, and you should have confidence too. Let me explain why.

Last month, our industry cheered as there was news of vaccines that showed they could prevent more than 90% of people from getting Covid. As I write this, there is talk that the NHS could roll out the vaccine by the end of the year. In this time of uncertainty, we’re relying on the surest thing there is – science.

Even before this, I was feeling hopeful. Throughout the pandemic, we have stayed in close contact with our clients. We’ve conducted two large-scale surveys, and the results have been heartening. When the recovery comes, it’s going to be big. A massive 82% of people told us they intended to travel internationally in 2021, and that was before news of the vaccine broke. 

In luxury travel, budgets will remain at pre-pandemic levels, and the intended length of holidays has not lessened. Plus, 60% of travellers are more determined to make sustainable travel choices – 74% said they would decide against a company due to lack of responsible travel credits. 

What has changed is an increased desire for reassurance. Clients need to know how flexible their arrangements are, and to be able to change plans without penalty. At Abercrombie & Kent and Cox & Kings, we have introduced an enhanced ‘Book with Confidence’ policy, which allows travellers to change or postpone their holiday, for any Covid-related reason, up to 15 days before their travel date. 

We have also worked tirelessly with our agency partners throughout to make sure that those clients who wanted refunds received them – so much so that consumer-champion magazine Which? recognised our efforts.

When it comes to booking future holidays, we believe the ‘new normal’ will be like the old normal. ‘Zoom fatigue’ is real, and face-to-face or telephone contact will never go out of fashion. In our survey, only 8% of respondents indicated they would like to discuss their future travel plans by video call. This also goes for our relationship with our trade partners. 

We’ll continue to host our webinars to understand better how we can continue to support you, but I also look forward to when we can meet in person. Trust me when I say that if you’re offering reassurance, flexibility and sustainable options, your phone is going to be ringing. Next year is going to be one we all remember – for the right reasons.

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