Selling holidays online via video call could emerge as one of the biggest trends from the COVID-19 pandemic crisis.
Industry experts speaking on a special Travel Weekly webcast this week agreed that the period of remote working will change the way consumers and businesses behave.
Lockdown has seen video conferencing applications like Skype, Zoom and House Party rocket in popularity as people work from home and keep in touch with loved ones.
Will Waggott, who has held senior roles in Airtuors, Tui, Thomas Cook and Travelopia since 1995, said many companies might also decide they do not need large office space.
He said: “I think working from home will change things completely. Businesses will say this has worked for six months and get rid of half their office space.
“Companies like Amazon and home delivery services are booming during this. That’s here to stay, so the world will have changed at the end of this.”
And with the travel sector having dented trust among many consumers due to the issue of offering credit notes instead of cash refunds, Waggott believes firms will need to communicate differently.
“It’s going to be much more difficult to get people to pay a lot of money for their holidays upfront,” he said.
“I think you will find a lot more people making bookings over video calls because they will have got used to it – they will have done it for six months.
“So, you will see a massive increase in people chatting to people about booking on video conferencing and less people going on the phones.
“Everyone is interacting on video, that’s what they are doing now, and they are getting used to it.”
Former Saga head of tour operations, Jeanette Linfoot said as well as video calls social media could also come more to the fore.
“Retaining cash is critical, but how you engage with your customers during this period is also critical because while there is uncertainty you can never over-communicate.
“And even if you don’t have the answers right now, if you are dealing with your customers in the best way possible in the tough times that will be remembered.
“In terms of customer loyalty, those customers that are treated well will stay loyal when the bounce back happens.
“The role of social media as well is really key. Businesses that take the opportunity to have really engaging content and good comms will do really well out of it when it does come back.”