Tui is the largest leisure, travel, and tourism company in the world. Founded in 1923, they operate airlines, cruise lines, hotels, and more. The travel sector has been one of the hardest hit industries due to Coronavirus. The US airline industry sought out a $50 billion bailout as flights have been significantly cut back. Now that lockdown measures are easing and popular holiday destinations such as Spain and Greece are opening back up, I was interested to see what would help consumers feel confident enough to book a holiday. This required:
- Identifying potential blockers to booking travel
- Evaluating the current booking journey
- Providing recommendations
I completed six usability interviews with volunteers from a variety of backgrounds. The high perceived risk that Coronavirus will impact their lives physically, financially, and emotionally is making them think twice about booking travel. Three main blockers to travel were identified:
“I never thought about cancellations before [Coronavirus]…If there’s a chance it’ll get cancelled, I wouldn’t book.”
Users said they were frustrated by their trips getting cancelled. Quality in customer service varied and they felt that airlines were doing everything they could to prevent cash refunds. This significantly damaged the travel company’s image by making them seem less trusting.
“Extending lockdown [is my main concern]. I know people booking for August and I feel like they’re kind of tempting fate.”
As lockdown rules are constantly changing from country to country, users wee afraid that they would become stranded at their destination. Afterall, it’s happened before. They also worried this would lead to future cancellations and that they shouldn’t bother booking until it’s all over.
Health & safety
“I want to be more sure about whether or not it’s safe to travel.”
Users feel that their health and safety aren’t a priority to the tourism industry. They wanted to know what airlines, hotels, bars, and restaurants were doing to keep them healthy and safe. With guidelines and information changing constantly, it’s hard to keep up to date with the latest guidance.
Recommendation: Reassurance a requirement
Users expressed the need for reassurance throughout their booking journey. Coronavirus is an ever-changing global event that is still very much on top of user’s minds. Prospective bookers need reassuring messaging specific to their journey. Before they can feel remotely comfortable with booking travel, they need to know that airlines and the tourism industry will be flexible when it comes to Coronavirus.
- Date limiter for amending holidays
- Hard to find refund policy
- Flexibility when it comes to Coronavirus: Unlimited updtes without additional cost
- Easy to find information regarding health & safety measures taken by providers
Further, ressurance needs to be tailored to the customer’s journey.
“I expect to find reassuring messages… All of this seems to the idea towards people who already have bookings.”
Users were able to quickly identify call to actions, however, they were all targeted at customers who have previously booked travel. As our research was targeting prosepctive bookers, users felt this type of messaging didn’t apply to them as they currently didn’t have travel booked. They wanted to hear from Tui how they would be protected and supported should they make a booking. This means a distinction needs to be made between prospective bookers and booked customers when creating call to actions and guidence.
Recommendation: Make it easy for the user to cancellations & refunds policy
“Not much around refunds, leads me to believe they aren’t doing them.”
Due to the chaotic nature of COVID, users have begun scrutinising airlines’ cancellation and refund policies. By making it difficult to access guidence on cancellations and travel protection, users felt they couldn’t trust Tui with their money. Users felt that cancellation and refund policies should be promintently displayed on the homepage.
Recommendation: Reassure users by providing comprehensive COVID guidence (and make it easy to find)
When users reached the Coronavirus information page, they were also left for wanting. Users felt that, as prospective bookers, this messaging still wasn’t meeting their need for information regarding cancellations, refund policies, and how they would be kept healthy and safe while traveling. When it comes to these concerns, there’s zero room for compromise. If users aren’t convinced their core needs are being met, they would rather wait for the pandemic to be over before traveling.
What are other airlines doing?
Our users have a serious case of wanderlust, however, they have serious concerns around cancellations, future lockdowns, and healthy and safety. They aren’t planning on booking travel any time son until these concerns are addressed with information applicable to their journey and easy to find messaging and information.