COVID-19 has hit the travel industry hard and the road to recovery is an uncertain one.
PAX recently conducted a survey to investigate some of the variables at play when it comes to just how badly the pandemic has affected Canada’s travel trade community.
Here’s what we found:
Travel agents & small businesses were hurt the most
In order to work, travel agents must have a steady stream of consumers booking travel. But when COVID-19 hit, cash flows were inevitably affected as bookings plummeted and trips were outright cancelled, along with hard-earned commissions, in some cases.
The majority of respondents were travel agents: 43% were home-based and 33% were bricks and mortar agents. The remaining one-quarter of respondents were either management/administration or company representatives. 86% of respondents indicated they work in a travel agency, while the remaining survey participants identified themselves as a supplier.
Of the travel agents who responded, more than half (59%) indicated that they work in organizations of between one and 30 employees.
On a more positive note, 61% said that they were continuing their usual company activities to prepare for recovery following the COVID-19 crisis.
The remainder of those surveyed have either ceased all operations, or suspended activity until further notice.
Sales are down
Without steady bookings, nearly three-quarters (71%) of respondents reported that since January 2020, sales have dropped substantially by 81% to 100%, an alarming number for anybody.
In an attempt to drive up sales again, and no longer relying on word of mouth, some of those surveyed have invested more in the power of social media and have turned to paid advertising via Facebook or Google.
However, the practice doesn’t appear to be popular amongst agents, as less than half (47%) of respondents reported they do not use any paid ad services.
Just over one-quarter (27%) indicated they have now stopped these ads, while 26% continue to use Google and Facebook ads. Only 2% increased their budget for these types of ads.
But has COVID-19 sparked any kind of desire for the travel community to increase their digital presence?
To an extent, yes.
One quarter (25%) of respondents indicated they were definitely prompted by the COVID-19 situation to place more effort into their web presence or other initiatives to reach customers; however, nearly two in 10 respondents say no efforts were made.
As the COVID-19 pandemic became more realized around the world, the Canadian government stepped in and created several programs intended to help small businesses whoa re struggling to make ends meet.
The travel community can take advantage of both the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) as well as the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS).
Nearly nine in 10 respondents (85%) indicated a high awareness of federal and provincial programs in place to help their organizations through the crisis. 15% said they were either partially aware, not sure or had absolutely no awareness.
Nearly half of respondents (42%) are in favour of the initiatives put forth by the government to help organizations survive during the COVID-19 crisis. Nearly one-quarter (21%) of respondents said these initiatives were extremely useful.
And when it’s all over?
New infection rates have decreased in Canada, and slowly, countries around the world are relaxing their lockdown restrictions. But still, no one knows for sure when the travel industry will return to “normal.”
Many have lost their jobs or have been temporarily furloughed with the hope of being called back to work. Despite this, Canada’s travel trade community continues to have an overwhelmingly positive outlook on the industry.
Almost all (91%) said “yes,” they expect to continue working in the travel industry after the crisis. This is a clear indication that travel industry professionals are not only a resilient group but very optimistic about the future of the travel industry.
Only 9% indicated they will not continue in the industry.
Through it all, Pax Global Media continues to monitor the COVID-19 crisis seriously, and strives to deliver real-time breaking news as it happens, to keep the travel industry in the loop.
According to the survey, (84%) gave Paxnews a favourable rating on the overall COVID-19 coverage provided to the trade.
Of the travel trade news outlets in English Canada providing coverage on the COVID-19 pandemic, Paxnews received the highest overall rating by nearly half of the respondents (48%).
More than half of respondents (54%) resided in Ontario, while three in ten respondents live in western Canada.
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