The Travel and Hotels sector experienced a decline between 2019 and 2020, now ranking below the study average, most likely because of COVID-19. The score dropped most in the resolution and empathy pillars. At some companies, customers experienced problems cancelling holidays/flights; other firms did not show any understanding or give refunds, or they communicated poorly.
Three brands made it to the Top 100; the Booking.com portal came first in the sector, maintaining its position. Customers expressed positive comments about its website, which they say is easy to navigate, gives plenty of information and serves as a useful tool to search for and compare accommodation. Reservations can be modified or cancelled on the website. Customers expressed very favourable opinions about the mobile app, how easy it was to contact Booking.com staff, and about customer service.
RegioJet ranked second in the sector and Invia third. Both brands have maintained their sector rankings since last year but have fallen in the overall rankings (RegioJet -50 places and Invia -41 places). Conversely, brands at the opposite end of the scale have improved and are slowly approaching the Top 100 (urban public transport providers +33; Czech Railways +20; Arriva +29).
Covid has dealt a severe blow to the whole sector on several levels: travel restrictions, lower confidence in travel safety and the risks of a possible future recession. In the Czech Republic, destinations dependent on inbound tourism are the most affected, i.e. Prague and the Karlovy Vary region. Premium accommodation facilities and services tailored to a specific foreign clientele (Asian markets, the US and certain European countries) have been particularly impacted. Such facilities and related services must at least partly adapt to changes in demand (e.g. change of product, price and marketing method). Nonetheless, the shortfall in revenue from inbound tourism cannot be entirely replaced in the current situation, which could pose existential problems for many establishments.
Concerning customer experience, companies have had to address an enormous number of cancelled bookings and customer enquiries. Many tour operators returned deposits and money to customers for cancelled holidays and were proactive in resolving COVID-19-related issues, which customers appreciated: “Very good, booked a holiday, but the pandemic forced me to cancel. The tour operator got in touch and came up with solutions.” (Exim Tours: Woman, 64)
„I sorted out a refund for my cancelled deposit. Given the current situation (pandemic), our trip was cancelled, and the accommodation deposit became non-refundable after payment, so Booking.com helped with the refund.“
Booking.com, Woman, 33
„We bought tickets for a trip to Slovakia… when the pandemic hit, they got in touch and told us that we wouldn’t lose anything. If we couldn’t travel, they would give us credit that we could use for another trip or would send us a refund to our account. Very satisfied.“
Leo Express, Man, 39
„I looked at their website. The advantage is that you get plenty of information about a destination or holiday. The web pages are easy to navigate, the photos are real, and there’s enough information, including about the company’s discounts. Very easy to follow“
Invia, Woman, 39