Travel experts guests can see and talk to about holiday plans will be more important than ever in the new-look travel era, according to Kuoni.
The belief has prompted the company to unveil a new video appointment service for luxury holidays.
The new video appointment service offers scheduled, bespoke video conversations with a travel expert who can help tailor-make luxury holidays, honeymoons and weddings around the world.
The trend for embracing video chatting, through apps such as Zoom, has skyrocketed over the past few weeks of lockdown, with significant uplift in usage as people of all ages become familiar with the technology.
While the company’s 48 stores on UK high streets and within John Lewis stores remain closed, Kuoni continues to support customers re-shape their holiday plans as the lockdown continues from its virtual call centre, with its travel experts working remotely from home.
But the company has reported a steady stream of new enquiries for 2021, with more people than ever before now starting to request video chats rather than use the phone.
Derek Jones, Kuoni UK managing director, said: “Before lockdown there was little appetite for video appointments, but the need to stay at home has changed people’s perception of, and familiarity with, video calling.
“What was seen as strange and awkward a short while ago is now commonplace.
“Attitudes have shifted massively in a really short space of time.”
Over the past year Kuoni had seen an upturn in face-to-face appointments, with the average length of each appointment around two hours, with around 59 per cent of people coming with a blank sheet – who don’t have a specific destination in mind and are happy to be inspired.
Jones said: “Meeting someone face to face, even by video link, creates a rapport with customers and a genuine understanding about the type of trip we can create for them – there’s a personal connection that you often don’t get from an anonymous voice over the phone.
“Trust will be absolutely vital to travel’s recovery – if there’s one thing we’ve learnt from this crisis it’s that customers have value having a real person to talk to.”
“There’s no doubt that people want a holiday to look forward to, but they also want expert insight about the ease and safety of travel plans for the future.
“Being able to see someone from the outset, and then know that there is someone there to help them if things change and they need help amending their trip is going to be central to our business in the new-era.”