Tui will not return to destinations or resorts if service levels cannot be met, the operator’s commercial director has insisted.
Speaking on a Travel Weekly webcast, Richard Sofer said: “We are not going to take customers to destinations if they have to quarantine when they get to the destination.
“We won’t be sending customers on holiday where we don’t think that they’re going to have a fantastic experience. If, for any reason, we think that’s not going to be the case, we will be speaking to those customers and giving them an alternative – or other options.”
Sofer said the guarantee was part of a new ‘Holiday Promise’ to reassure customers.
“Crucially, one of the key parts of that Holiday Promise is that we’re not going to take customers to destinations where we’re not confident they won’t have a brilliant time,” he added.
Some agents have raised concerns that customers could be encouraged to take legal action if their holiday experiences were not what they expected, but Sofer said he did not expect a rash of claims.
“We’ve been really flexible with our terms for customers. I think we’re the only major operator out there that actually gave customers free amendments for bookings all the way through the peak season,” he said.
“We’re really aware, particularly for families, who may have been uncertain around schooling and what was going to happen to their holiday. So all the way up till the end of August, we’ve allowed customers to amend their holiday for free.
“We believe that the customers that still have a live booking for this summer are those that actually have researched and they understand where there will be some slight differences, particularly to the transport part of their experience, so I’m not concerned that there’s going be a huge compensation backlash.”
Sofer said customers expected there to be changes to the experience in both transit and in resort, but he hoped they would be minimised.
“The airport and the airline experience will be slightly different to what customers have experienced in the past,” he said. “The main part of the airline experience will be the need to wear a face mask, which the government communicated several days ago.
“In an ideal world, we will be asking customers to take less luggage into the cabin. We want to try and minimise some of the movements within the cabin and that’s the advice that’s been given to all of the airlines that they should be adhering to.”
Sofer said measures on transfers and in resort would differ by destination.
“There will be some measures in place but these will be quite different depending on what the government restrictions are in each country. There may be slightly different social distancing measures. Across Europe, some of these are one-and-a-half metres and some are slightly different again. Those will need to apply for part of the holiday experience.”
Sofer said Tui did not expect customers to wear masks in their hotels, or for screens to be erected between sun-loungers or swimming pools to be closed or restricted, as some national media have reported.
“I don’t believe we’re going to see any of that,” he said. “If we’re honest, because our capacities will be slightly suppressed, it’s very unlikely you’re going to see resorts at anywhere near the capacities that they should have been, and therefore that’s naturally going to create space.”
He also confirmed Tui’s initial programme would not just be limited to its own hotels.
“Our strategy with our own hotels has been very successful. But that’s onlyproportion of the hotels that we offer to customers,” he sad.
“We’ve got many bookings in third-party hotels as well and they are a critically important part of the programme over the last 20 years, driven through customer demand for the most popular destinations and the most popular hotels.
“They will definitely be part of the programme as we return and will continue to be part of the programme in the future.”
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