While the entire travel and tourism industry is reeling under the impact of the pandemic crisis, travel agents and tour operators are some of the worst affected. Yet it is they who are expected to play a key role in restarting tourism and encouraging people to travel. To regain their footing in a value chain disrupted by the pandemic crisis, they will have to do much more than restructuring their finances. In this second of our two-part series, we highlight some timely tips the guidelines published by the UNWTO offer to travel agents and tour operators.
Time to #RestartTourism!— World Tourism Organization (@UNWTO) June 4, 2020
UNWTO leads the restart of tourism providing guidance and leadership, putting people’s safety first with innovation and sustainability.
Only united will we move onto the next stage to grow back better and stronger. https://t.co/GKCk8DIiDP pic.twitter.com/qhgrCge7M4
In the post-pandemic revival phase, with people seeking more experiential options, travel agents and tour operators have to take a leading role in collaborating with local creative industries to generate novelty products, according to the guideline. Of course, adherence to health and safety protocols and promotion of digital communication will be a part of their own operations.
Developing segmented and sustainable products focussed on nature and eco-tourism, rural areas, culture, sports, etc. will be a key step to build their product and marketing strategies, according to the guideline. Customers can be encouraged to travel over shorter distances and explore nearby destinations to start with. Organising personalised and small group tours or combined hotel and car packages will be now more important than before.
A key observation made in the guideline is that travel agents and tour operators can create alliances with the financial sector to promote deferred tour packages at interest free instalments. Similar partnerships may be worked out with airlines where customers enjoy incremental accrual of miles or implement a point-based rewards system for purchases of tour packages in alliance with the airlines.