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Trust in holiday companies low after cancellation chaos

Emma Lunn
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Emma Lunn

Half of Teletext Holidays, Opodo and Ryanair customers wouldn’t book with the same company again after struggling to get a refund during the pandemic.

A survey by Which? found that a lack of trust in some holiday companies is the biggest barrier to rebooking with them after last year’s travel disruption.

Millions of people have had a package holiday cancelled since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, with billions of pounds having been illegally withheld in refunds for cancelled holidays over this time.

Most companies have since worked through their backlog of refunds, but trust in the industry and some holiday companies has still suffered.

Which? surveyed more than 4,000 people who had a package holiday that was unable to go ahead between March 2020 and February 2021 to establish whether they would book with the same company again in the future and why.

Overall, seven in 10 respondents (70%) told Which? they were likely to book with the same company again in the future. But there were huge differences between companies that had made an effort to treat customers well during the pandemic, and those that didn’t.

The best and worst holiday firms

A high percentage of customers from firms such as Hays Travel (85%), Audley Travel (82%), Jet2 (82%) Saga (82%), Tui (78%), Kuoni (77%) and Riviera Travel (77%) said they were likely to book with the same company again.

But at the other end of the spectrum, only half of those who had package holidays that did not go ahead with Ryanair (50%), Teletext Holidays (51%) and Opodo (53%) said they’d be likely to book with the companies again.

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) investigated Teletext Holidays and its sister travel operator, Alpharooms.com  after receiving hundreds of complaints about people not receiving refunds they were owed.

Almost two thirds (63%) of Ryanair’s package holiday customers who said they wouldn’t book with the company again said that it was because they no longer trust the company.

Only six in 10 Southall Travel (58%), Love Holidays (60%) and Expedia (62%) customers whose holiday did not go ahead said they would book with the same company again in the future.

Overall, half of those surveyed (51%) who said they would not book with the same provider in the future said this was because they no longer trusted the company.

Almost a quarter (23%) of those who said they were unlikely to book a holiday with the same company in the future said it was because they were not satisfied with what they received in place of the holiday that did not go ahead.

Travel restrictions

With travel rules and restrictions changing regularly, travellers could find themselves left out of pocket if their holiday company does not allow them to cancel for a full refund if they are no longer able to travel as planned.

Rory Boland, editor of Which? Travel, said: “With international travel still fraught with potential risks that could leave holidaymakers unable to travel as planned, trusting that a company will refund you if things go wrong will be vital to encouraging customers to book in the near future.

“A considerable number of companies do not seem to have learned lessons from last summer’s disruption though, and continue to offer holidaymakers limited financial protection if their holiday is disrupted by changing travel restrictions or being told to self-isolate.

“It’s important that travellers do their research before booking a holiday while coronavirus remains a risk, to check whether their holiday provider will leave them out of pocket if they cannot travel when the time comes.”