The boss of one of the world’s leading touring companies has urged suppliers not to slash fares to entice customers, insisting the post-pandemic future should “not be cutting prices”.
Speaking on a Travel Weekly webcast, Trafalgar chief executive Gavin Tollman said consumers’ number one concern following the Covid-19 crisis will be their health and safety and said: “If you are going to look after everyone’s wellbeing, it is going to cost money.”
“People are clearly going to travel again, but their investment in their travel will be first and foremost to make sure ‘have you taken care of me?’. Number two, what are the experiences you’re going to get now? And are you going to come home with those wonderful memories from travel itself?” he said.
“Clearly there’s a value proposition within that but it is not one of trying to drop your prices so low that you are trying to encourage people to go in that way. To me, that is short-sighted and I would strongly encourage others in our industry not to head down that path.”
Tollman said consumers, at least in the short-term, were also looking for tours to more remote areas, away from crowds.
“Where we are today – and I don’t know what what’s going to look like in six months’ time – but certainly, looking at our search traffic, it is very much around the open spaces. We are definitely seeing an enormous shift towards the national parks in the United States and the Rockies in Canada -you are definitely seeing that.”
He added: “We are currently working on a new series with Tourism Switzerland because once again, on research conducted just over a week ago, Switzerland is now seen as the safest country to visit.
“So there is no doubt that there is a shift towards people seeing open spaces as where they want to go but that is where we are now and that could shift just as quickly in a different direction, so we continue to keep all options open.”
Tollman said Trafalgar was working hard to ensure social distancing could be followed on its city tours to reassure guests, which included the introduction of more exclusive access experiences.
And he said that social responsibility would also become an important consideration in the future.
“We have seen what a privilege it is to travel. We’ve also seen the power of what we do; how travel can be that powerful force and make a difference in the communities. And we will only be taking that further now,” he said.
“This is not a trend. This is an imperative. We’re in a fourth-generation family business and for us, one of the saddest things was the possibility or the jeopardy of future generations not being able to do what we took for granted.
“We decided as a family, driven by our CEO Brett [Tollman, Travel Corporation chief executive], to actually make this difference and be this force for good. And what you will see in each and everything we do moving forward, is this is not just going to be a part of what we do. I believe it’s going to be even more so the driving force of what we do.”
He added: “What is so wonderful to see now, whether it’s governments, whether it’s our travel agent partners, whether it’s our guests, everyone now gets it. People get that when they travel with us, they go home knowing that their travel dollar made a difference to somebody else.
“We are no longer having to do a pitch to try and get people to join us and that power of inclusion is something that will be one of the greatest outcomes of the post-Covid era.”
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