Comment: Rebuilding reputation is key

Comment: Rebuilding reputation is key

For years British Airways was the gold standard among airlines, associated with quality and service.

So news this week that a major consumer survey has found its brand values have plummeted should serve as a stark wake-up call for the flag-carrier.

My last flight with BA was less than impressive. They ran out of most of their food after serving the first few rows, duty-free items weren’t available and one of the cupboard doors in the toilet was hanging off. Hats off to the stewardess who kept her cool while faced with a barrage of unhappy passengers.

The airline has gone from one crisis to another: an IT meltdown that left thousands stranded, continual cabin crew strikes and a backlash against its £8 GDS fee.

This week BA chief Alex Cruz claimed the carrier was still a premium brand, but acknowledged it must raise its game if it is to stay competitive.

The survey serves as a timely reminder that no brand is immune from public opinion. Many of the destinations exhibiting at World Travel Market this week face this challenge. For Tunisia, Egypt and the Caribbean, it is a case of rebuilding their reputations to regain their tourism status among UK holidaymakers.

For years, Sharm el-Sheikh had a reputation as a winter-sun destination that did what it said on the tin, and I’m sure the industry will get behind it as soon as it is able to sell it. That’s already happening with Tunisia, which is starting to see light at the end of the tunnel.

But getting holidaymakers back on side is not easy, as the Caribbean is discovering to its cost after hurricanes Irma and Maria. The trade must play its part in encouraging customers to consider the destination next year and dispel any myths that the region is not open for business.

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