Customers will be comfortable returning to travel in their own time but many are on a “sliding scale”, says the boss of the UK’s largest tour operator.
Tui’s UK managing director Andrew Flintham said the operator’s Holiday Promise was designed to put the minds of customers in the middle of three levels of “risk appetite” at ease.
Speaking to Travel Weekly in Ibiza as the operator hosted media as part of its summer 2020 programme relaunch, he said: “We have whole range of customers with a whole range of how they perceive risk. There are some customers who have been waiting for the second they can book a holiday, and we are also going to have those customers that, at the moment, travelling is not something they want to do – and we have to respect that, whether their circumstances are medical or otherwise.
“We never want to be in a place where we are unfair to any customers. We want customers to be able to make the decision that’s right for them.
He added: “In between those two groups you have a whole load of people on a sliding scale, which is where something like our Holiday Promise really works.”
“These things are really important to people,” he said, noting that Tui’s newly-announced Covid Cover was “underpinning” the Holiday Promise, which also pledges that Tui won’t take customers to anywhere they would have to quarantine on arrival. “That’s not a holiday,” added Flintham.
He said “the other questions” Tui is getting related to what was open, be it beaches, golf facilities, spas, gyms and pools, and said the pledge promises “we won’t take you somewhere where you won’t get the holiday you paid for”.
However, he said some hotels may not have all facilities, open, for instance there will be cases where not every restaurant is open as the hotel is operating with limited capacity. But this, he said, would not constitute a material change.
Flintham said Tui’s decision not to sell Florida holidays departing this year was a “really good example” because the majority of its guests visit Disney which has limitations and restrictions.
“Disney is a dream holiday for a lot of our customers, but it’s not quite the same if Mickey Mouse is behind a screen or you can’t do the Disney dining,” he explained. “Because we can’t offer it in the way customers would expect, that’s a fundamental reason why we said we wouldn’t be happy with it.”
Flintham said the operator’s stance should protect it from customers claiming that they did not get the equivalent holiday that they paid for before the pandemic, something travel agents have flagged as a potential banana skin for companies during the restart.
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