Daring to dream: The highs and lows of a recent booking experience

By Jacob Bartram

It started with a dream of being on a beach. We imagined getting the train to Margate, Broadstairs or Brighton on a sunny Friday morning. However, forecasts of the Great British weather during the period of our planned domestic getaway were anything but great. Before we knew it, we were looking at flights to Barcelona. On the airline website we were greeted with the slogan “Prepare to travel with confidence”. We researched the latest news concerning the Coronavirus in Catalonia after we booked our tickets.

The rest is history. Seemingly from nowhere, the British government imposed a two week quarantine on anyone returning from Spain, and advised against all but essential travel to the country. Looking to avoid losing money on top of their holidays, recent data shows that customers looking to book accommodation are almost as concerned about having the option of free cancellation as they are about health and safety reassurances[1].  Our airline issued only general advice, and for the first few days after the government announcement, we would have had to pay £30.00 per flight change. Again without warning, we saw that we would now be able to change our flights for free.  Choosing a new destination feels like a research project. There is no room for whim.

News TV offered a stream of Great British disgruntlement; plans ruined, freedom lost. This was accompanied by those who said it was selfish to even think about going away “in a time of crisis”. The debate illustrated differing segments of feeling towards our current predicament, and hinted at a personal journey each of us take, perhaps not unlike the five stages of grief. However my mind was transported away from this very British miasma upon receiving a call from the hotel we would have stayed at in Barcelona. They informed us that we could stay at their four star sister hotel, in a suite. I sense the disappointment in the staff member as I explain the inevitable. I imagine all the rooms that will now be empty and staff that may be without work.

Introducing our Covid-19 Consumer Segments

consumer segments

BVA BDRC are running a Covid-19 tracker to help gauge public attitudes on Travel & Mobility, Leisure & Hospitality and Personal finances. It is currently observing consumers gradually moving out of the most anxious / cautious segments, with the ‘Life Goes On’ segment being the biggest grower.Segmentation

However, even before the new quarantine was introduced for travellers to Spain, the tracker shows that only 5% of people were planning to travel abroad by the end of August.

When people expect to take an overseas holiday

overseas holiday intentions

My recent experience was an attempt to "go on". It is also a cautionary tale amongst many, demonstrative of an unstable reality.  Amid this turbulence, we are preparing for confidence, still daring to dream.

For more information on our data, please get in touch.  Please also download our weekly COVID-19 tracker. 

[1]Tracking Consumer Sentiment on the Impact of COVID-19- Weekly Update – 29th July 2020 - Q63 - Which, if any, of the following conditions would it be essential for accommodation  providers to have in place for you to stay at them this summer?

Update- All’s well that ends well

In a week where nearly nine in ten of us conceded that a second wave and lockdown are likely[1], we pack our bags and prepare to leave.

Having been able to change our flights for free, we flew away to Sicily for four nights. A change of scene can change everything. Walking on the beach with wet sand under my feet and driving around sweltering Siracusa on the other side of a road… I feel reborn.

[1] Tracking Consumer Sentiment on the Impact of COVID-19, Weekly Update – 12th August 2020, P.2

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