International travel resumes in UK: Are tourism sites ready?

TrafficDefender - International travel
It’s a big week for holidaymakers in the UK as borders reopen for international leisure trips, albeit with restrictions. But are booking sites ready for the sudden demand?

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Holiday restrictions are somewhat confusing and ever changing. The destinations are limited and the flights and hotels more expensive than usual. Yet the first chance for an international holiday since the start of the Covid pandemic has drawn an incredible amount of interest from British tourists this week.

But this is only the first phase of the travel industry’s recovery, representing just one nation’s approach. There is a long way to go yet.

In 2019, tourism was worth $9.2tn to the global economy. This fell to $4.7tn in 2020. It may take years of constantly adapting business models for the travel sector to fully recover.

Bookings are still far below a normal year, yet because of England’s traffic light system restricting where we can go and under what terms, demand is very focused. While many European countries may have to wait months to welcome Brits, “green light” destinations like Portugal are enjoying a boom in tourism.

After a year of extremely limited trading, travel and tourism businesses must do everything in their power to maximize profits. In one such example, with no more landing slots available at Portuguese airports, Tui has doubled passenger capacity by replacing its usual Boeing 737s with Dreamliners on these routes.

Find out more in our live webinar: Are Holiday Websites Ready for the 2021 Booking Bonanza?

The travel industry comeback remains hard to predict

Many in the travel industry know that this week marks an important milestone as members of the public dip their toes and start going abroad once again. Planning is limited as any lifting of restrictions is reliant on uncontrollable factors, which vary from country to country.

In the meantime, operators are looking for ways to control what they can and support a sustainable growth back to full strength as more destinations become viable.

Here are some predictions for the 2021 travel landscape:

Those who do travel will be willing to spend more

Barclays recently reported that Brits have more money than ever stashed away in savings accounts, predicting an economic boom. A survey from Scott’s Cheap Flights indicated that many would-be tourists plan to spend what they saved by not travelling last year on taking a bigger trip away this year. Thomas Cook revealed than 85% of 2021 bookings to date were for four- and five-star hotel accommodation, up from 50% in previous years.

These figures imply that those who are choosing to travel in 2021 are spending significantly more money on tourism than usual.

Demand will be focused as specific destinations become available

In 2021, the world is no longer our oyster. There are very limited options for travellers currently, and the gradual lifting of restrictions will be staggered and uncoordinated across destinations.

We already saw a huge influx of demand and prices subsequently pushed up as Portugal was announced as being on England’s green list. As more destinations go “into the green” we can expect a rush of demand for flights to each.

Not everyone will be willing to board aeroplanes

While those in the airline industry will breathe a sigh of relief to see flights resuming, there is still a divide between those keen to board post-Covid flights and those who are still uncomfortable traveling by air.

In a recent internal survey, Netacea staff said they were more likely to travel for a holiday via their car than via planes or public transport.

This means that demand is likely to continue to grow for domestic holiday venues in response to the same changes affecting international travel. These businesses must also prepare for the rapidly changing holiday landscape.

How this affects online bookings

Online travel bookings are just as unpredictable in their volume and velocity as the rest of the industry at present. An unexpected pandemic announcement by the government can flood travel sites with visitors looking for information or wanting to make bookings before things change.

There is such a thing as too much web traffic at once however, if web infrastructure is not correctly configured. Should servers start to struggle to keep up with an influx of user requests, web page load times could be hampered; even a one second delay in page load time causes 11% fewer page views, a 16% decrease in customer satisfaction, and 7% loss in conversions.

There can be even more serious consequences such as errors and outages, in which case visitors are likely to go straight to a competitor site.

Maximizing bookings with a virtual waiting room

These unwanted consequences of erratic traffic patterns can be controlled using a virtual waiting room. By placing excess visitors into a fair online queue, those using the site can browse and book unimpeded, delivering the optimal user experience even at peak times.

TrafficDefender provides a white-labelled virtual queue page so our travel and tourism clients can deliver an excellent experience even to those who do have to queue. Queued visitors can read up on the latest Covid guidelines or view photos and videos of their dream destination and hotel.

We also advise keeping queued guests informed of their estimated wait time and queue position, so expectations are always managed smoothly.

Want to know more about how virtual waiting rooms can help travel websites optimize revenue in uncertain times? Join our upcoming webinar for an in-depth panel discussion on Thursday, May 20th at 4pm BST: Are Holiday Websites Ready for the 2021 Booking Bonanza?

Contact us today to arrange a free demo to learn how TrafficDefender is helping travel sites keep holiday bookings under control in 2021.

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