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What does the future of travel look like after the pandemic?



what does the future of travel look like after the pandemic

This year has hit the holiday industry incredibly hard with the coronavirus pandemic rocking all areas of travel.

Many have seen flight cancellations, trips left in ruins and future plans put on hold. However, as restrictions began to ease and people started venturing abroad again, we saw a new way of travelling emerge.

More people were taking short haul flights to nearby destinations, if not staycations, and making the most of whatever time they could steal away from home – restrictions permitting.

Holiday experts believe that some of the changes to the travel sector are likely to last for the foreseeable future with booking firm Kayak saying it doesn’t expect bookings to recover to normal levels until at least 2023.

Some holiday experts don't believe travel will get back to normal until a few years time

Some holiday experts don’t believe travel will get back to normal until a few years time

It is likely that holidaying in Britain could continue for quite some time, even though many holidaymakers are desperate to get to the sunny climes of a faraway destination.

Experts also believe that certain alterations will have to remain in place for travellers to feel confident enough to travel abroad again.

Moshe Rafiah, the chief executive of Skyscanner, said: ‘Restoring confidence is crucial and travel providers must think holistically about the end-to-end experience. 

‘Travellers will vote with their feet, favouring brands and providers they can trust and who understand them.’

To find out how the travel industry is likely to progress in the future, This is Money spoke to some of the biggest holiday providers in Britain to see what trends they have noticed forming over the past few months and what holidaymakers will be looking for going forwards.

Holidaying in Britain

With travel restrictions in place to most countries around the world, many Britons have instead holidayed at home – a trend that experts think is likely to continue. 

Kayak, the holiday booking site, said that over the summer, it has seen UK travellers turn to domestic travel with staycations likely to remain popular for the rest of the year.

For example, for the upcoming mid-term autumn break, its data shows that domestic car hire searches for the final two weeks of October are up more than 18 per cent annually.

When looking at the most searched hotel destinations within Britain for the October break period, seaside destinations proved popular with St Ives, Blackpool, Whitby and Weymouth all appearing in the top five hotel searches.

Kayak said that in March, April and May flight searches in the UK were down on average by 76 per cent. 

However, as travel restrictions began to relax, it saw early signs of consumer confidence. 

It said searches for domestic car rental were up 74 per cent year on year. 

Skyscanner added that, within the last six months, camping stays and holiday homes topped the rankings of the trending accommodation types for holidaymakers this summer. also believes the trend of staycations will continue with its research finding that 61 per cent of Britons are planning on travelling domestically in the next six months, whilst only 33 per cent plan to travel internationally. 

This has been reflected in how far people have travelled with Booking revealing that the average distance Britons have travelled is down 493 miles, when comparing 2019 to 2020.

It added that two fifths of the total distance travelled between 1 June and 31 August 2020 was within the UK, compared to only 14 per cent during the same period of 2019.

Trends: During March, most holidaymakers looked at heading away within the same week

Trends: During March, most holidaymakers looked at heading away within the same week

Similarly, in Expedia’s Summer of Britain research, nearly three quarters of Britons stated they wanted to explore the UK more this year.

This is reflected in the booking sites data which shows destinations such as Devon, the Lake District and North Cornwall have seen the most interest. 

Alex Platts, a senior director at Expedia Group, said: ‘We can’t ignore the clear shift in attitudes towards holidaying in the short and possibly long term, here in the UK and overseas. 

‘While quarantine rules and restrictions are in place, those who are free to travel are opting for drive to destinations close to home.’

Trends over the last couple of months

A number of trends have emerged on booking sites over the past couple of months, including the need to book last minute. 

Skyscanner research shows that during March and then in August, most holidaymakers were searching for holidays that would take them away within the same week. 

The last minute style of booking is something recognised by most sites as travellers wait in case there is a last minute spike in coronavirus cases proving now more than ever, having flexibility is key.     

Travelling sustainably is also something it expects to see gain momentum. 

Even prior to Covid-19, there was a noticeable shift in travellers becoming more conscious about the environmental impact they can have on destinations. 

This is something that is likely to continue as travellers become increasingly aware of the damage that flying can have on the environment.  

In response to the changing nature of travel, Kayak launched a ‘trains’ product, that enables travellers to search for bus and train travel options in the hopes this will help travellers look for an alternative – and perhaps more environmentally-friendly – means of transportation.

It said that following a surge just before the global lockdown, searches to book travel departing within a week declined but have since been trending upwards from June. 

When it comes to international travel, the increase in searches Kayak has seen over the summer as European countries announced their easing of travel restrictions, show that people really missed travelling.

A Kayak spokesperson said: ‘We predict that as more restrictions lift, we will see search interest come back, but demand depends on how quickly consumer confidence is restored.

‘There is no doubt that the travel industry remains challenged. But at the same time we know that demand will return, and when it does, it will remain a priority for us to help travellers make informed decisions, find the right option for them to experience the world safely.’

The Lake District is one of the places in the UK many travellers wanted to take a staycation

The Lake District is one of the places in the UK many travellers wanted to take a staycation

Adapting to the new normal 

It will be sometime before the travel industry returns to what it once was and unfortunately many companies will be left struggling on the way. 

Experts have warned that firms will need to be clever to survive and adapt to the new way of the world. 

Hugh Aitken of Skyscanner, said: ‘We are at the beginning of a long road to recovery. Changing attitudes towards travel, fluctuating demand and uncertainty around restrictions will alter the economics of tourism for the foreseeable future.

‘Those that evolve and adapt to meet the new needs of travellers will thrive in this environment, while those that don’t may be lucky to survive.’

The lack of those travelling for business is one way the industry is being negatively impacted with Skyscanner finding that those who used to fly around the world, are now using Zoom and webinars to make connections instead. 

Whilst London’s Heathrow airport used to manage 26.5million business travellers every year, it is unlikely to manage anywhere near that number for some time to come.

The comparison site believes that low cost airlines are going to be the firms most likely – and most quickly – to recover due to their low-cost bases, simplified business structures and point-to-point models.

It has also suggested that airlines could adapt by introducing new cabin classes such as a premium economy ‘plus’ option, giving travellers who are willing to pay more an experience between business class and premium economy. 

We don’t expect bookings to recover until airlines fully restore capacity, in line with travel recovery trends more broadly. That may not happen until 2023.
Kayak spokesperson 

However, some booking sites believe the sector will not see full recovery until several years into the future.  

A Kayak spokesperson said: ‘We don’t expect bookings to recover until airlines fully restore capacity, in line with travel recovery trends more broadly. That may not happen until 2023.’

The holiday booking site said until the airlines have re-established full capacity and consumer confidence has been fully restored, there will be no change in the number of people travelling for several years. 

Holiday experts believe a lot of travel will depend on when governments alter their lockdown policies and social distancing measures.

A spokesperson for said: ‘Whilst the industry is resilient and will certainly bounce back, it is likely that it will be years before we witness the full recovery of global travel demand, and when we emerge from this global pandemic our world and our industry will undoubtedly be different. 

Skyscanner believes low cost airlines are going to be the quickest to recover from lockdown

Skyscanner believes low cost airlines are going to be the quickest to recover from lockdown 

Flexible booking and hygiene  

There have been two main changes that customers have demanded of the travel industry. 

Firstly is to have flexible booking options as, in many cases, it allows a customer to book and not pay until near the time of the flight, allowing for free cancellation, giving holidaymakers peace of mind. 

A Kayak spokesperson added: ‘Consumer behaviour has changed. One of the trends we do expect to see continue is that of travellers looking for flexible fares.’ 

The second is for airlines, accommodation and any other transport to be spotlessly clean and hygienic.   

A spokesperson said: ‘It will be important for accommodation providers to embrace flexible policies including the ability to cancel last minute and reassure guests that they are fully Covid compliant and putting in measures to safeguard against risks as much as possible.’

This was mirrored by Expedia, with Alex Platts  saying: ‘Cleanliness matters. Clear information showing what precautions are being taken in accommodation is pivotal for building traveller confidence.’ 

Bali is high on the list of places holidaymakers want to visit when travel restrictions are eased

Bali is high on the list of places holidaymakers want to visit when travel restrictions are eased

Where will people be heading when restrictions ease?

Many of us will be dreaming of our next vacation away – and making a wish list of the destinations we are desperate to visit. 

According to Expedia, European cities such as Amsterdam and sunny beach escapes including Ubud and Gili Trawangan were high among Britons’ most wish-listed destination during the Covid-19 pandemic.

This summer, nearly a third of British travellers stated that they’re saving up for a trip abroad in 2021 and interest on Expedia has increased for exotic places such as the Maldives, French Polynesia and Bali.

However, recently, a third of Britons told Expedia that a pampering trip would be their ideal next getaway. 

As a result, affordable luxury will be a popular option, with urban hotels offering great amenities and discounted room rates to attract customers. 

Alex Platts of Expedia said: ‘In the immediate future, we have seen travellers considering breaks where they can work from their holiday rental or hotel.

‘In particular, holiday homes are being rented out for extended stays to offer a change of scenery for at-home workers with families. While we find ourselves in testing times, wellness breaks will also play a key role.’ 

A spokesperson for added: ‘We expect that the countries that have been most impacted by the recent crisis will be enticing tourists to visit them, so they can start to recover – we believe that travellers will actively look for ways to support these communities and cities.’

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The Very Group shipping million parcels a week for Christmas




the very group shipping million parcels a week for christmas

Standing in a giant warehouse on a grey October morning somewhere in the Midlands, it’s impossible to escape the uncomfortable feeling that Christmas won’t be very merry for shops this year. 

From here, Henry Birch – chief executive of £2billion online retail giant The Very Group – is already shipping out a million parcels a week. 

By the week of Black Friday at the end of November, that number will increase to 1.5million packed and loaded by more than 800 staff and 500 brand new robots – machines specifically designed to slash costs and cut the time it takes to get orders out of the door. 

While the ring of high street tills feels increasingly hollow, Birch can say with unflinching certainty that he’s ready for his biggest festive season yet. 

Sales at his website rose 36 per cent in the three months to the end of June and demand has continued in ‘double digits’ since. 

'Tough call': Henry Birch pressed on with the plan to set up one huge site

'Tough call': Henry Birch pressed on with the plan to set up one huge site

‘Tough call’: Henry Birch pressed on with the plan to set up one huge site

‘We see the strong trading continuing. We’re going into this with momentum and from a position of confidence. Our feeling is that we are going to have a record Black Friday and Christmas – stronger than we’ve ever had before.’ 

Many online firms are already calling it ‘Black November’ – a month of discounts and incentives for shoppers to buy early but, more critically, online. 

Birch explains – for obvious reasons – that ‘consumer sentiment seems to be around staying away from the high street and shopping online’. 

The smooth running of the warehouse is clearly bolstering that confidence. It was scheduled to go operational on the day Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced lockdown on March 23. The Very Group pushed ahead with the plan – beginning from a standing start meant it was easier to assimilate Covid-19 safety measures than at some rival operations – consolidating two existing warehouses in the North West to this one. 

‘We had a tough call to make and we made a decision to go ahead,’ says Birch, whose group also owns the Littlewoods brand. 

‘It was the right thing to do in retrospect. We’ve seen a huge sales growth since March and that’s been underpinned by having this place fully operational,’ he says. 

Skygate, as the 850,000 sq ft warehouse is known, is the company’s shop floor, while the Very website is its shop window. It is strategically placed in the middle of the country, buttressed by East Midlands Airport on one side and the M1 motorway on the other. 

Rail links, vastly improved efficiencies and its central location mean it has cut about a million miles from its transport budget. And, Birch is quick to point out, it has cut carbon emissions too. 

Birch says the company – founded by Merseyside businessman and Littlewoods catalogue creator John Moores, after whom Liverpool’s second university is named – is absolutely ’embedded’ in Liverpool where its head office remains, adding that being in the region is a ‘competitive advantage’ with so many other online firms there. But the retreat from Shaw in Oldham and Little Hulton near Manchester was a painful one, described by one commentator on its announcement as ‘another dark day’ in UK retail but which insiders say was dealt with as sensitively as possible given the circumstances. 

34794228 8875159 image m 277 1603563446553

34794228 8875159 image m 277 1603563446553

Birch, a diplomat’s son who previously ran William Hill’s online gambling business, acknowledges the sophisticated warehouse means he needs to employ around 1,000 fewer staff. The robots that have replaced the product pickers resemble kids’ ride-on sports cars – complete with neon headlights. 

But the company sees automation as the key to success in an arms race in which smaller – or weaker – players in retail will increasingly struggle to compete. 

In the warehouse is a machine that packs up 1,500 items an hour, with more to come following its initial success, and huge conveyor belts that pre-sort parcels rather than leaving the job to distribution firms on the outside. 

‘We can go from receiving an order to getting it out of the door in 30 minutes. The speed of getting things in and out of here is impressive,’ he observes as we walk across the highest mezzanine. Previously, the process took four hours. 

As a result of that, The Very Group will seek to dispatch orders immediately rather than, as many firms do on Black Friday, pushing out delivery promises by a week or more – a delay tactic that is employed in a desperate effort not to turn away trade during such unprecedented demand.

34794230 8875159 image m 279 1603563470059

34794230 8875159 image m 279 1603563470059

During lockdown, demand changed significantly. Very was shipping out 300 jacuzzis and spas each day at the peak of lockdown, dispatching them as quickly as they arrived in the warehouse, and fashion sales fell even though Birch says he managed to increase market share. 

He adds some hope for clobbered fashion retailers: ‘We’re definitely seeing a recovery in fashion – whether people will decide that finally they want to treat themselves for Christmas Day or whenever they can meaningfully go out after that.’ 

But he says its ‘harder to call’ overall consumer spending beyond the further shift online.

‘Anecdotally, I think people are going to want to celebrate Christmas, treat their kids, and have something to look forward to. I think it feels like it will be a normal Christmas, if not a better Christmas in terms of overall trading. 

‘I just think people are going to take more time planning and buying for Christmas this year. They’re going out less, sitting at home online. I think people have got more time on their hands. 

‘They want something to look forward to and at the moment Christmas is something of a light at the end of the tunnel.’ 

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TONY HETHERINGTON: We can’t get our wedding deposit back




tony hetherington we cant get our wedding deposit back

Tony Hetherington is Financial Mail on Sunday’s ace investigator, fighting readers corners, revealing the truth that lies behind closed doors and winning victories for those who have been left out-of-pocket. Find out how to contact him below. 

Ms A.H. writes: My partner and I booked a wedding reception for 60 guests at Pembroke Lodge in Richmond Park, for July 11. 

The Government restrictions to tackle the pandemic meant this could not go ahead as planned. Pembroke Lodge set a cut-off date for us to decide whether to go ahead, but could not say whether they could provide our wedding at all, let alone how many guests would be allowed. 

We could not continue, so we asked for a refund of our £1,750 deposit, but they refused. 

Cancelled: But Pembroke Lodge in London¿s Richmond Park would not offer a refund of Ms H¿s £1,750 deposit

Cancelled: But Pembroke Lodge in London¿s Richmond Park would not offer a refund of Ms H¿s £1,750 deposit

Cancelled: But Pembroke Lodge in London’s Richmond Park would not offer a refund of Ms H’s £1,750 deposit

You told me that your wedding had been planned for more than a year, with one of the attractions that the reception would be in one of the Royal Parks, in South West London. 

As lockdown restrictions were announced and changed, you were pressed for a decision by June 13, though the management at Pembroke Lodge could still not say what would be allowed or how many guests you could have. 

As your church ceremony was still allowed, you went ahead with that but cancelled the reception and requested a refund. You were offered instead a choice that included postponing your reception until a new date at some point in the future, with Pembroke Lodge adding that its terms and conditions allow no refunds. 

However, when I looked into those terms and conditions, they showed that you and your partner had made the booking, but they did not show who was on the other end of the contract, nor did the wedding firm’s 31-page brochure, or its very attractive website. 

Pembroke Lodge is just a building, not a person or a company. It turned out that the wedding business is operated by a company called The Hearsum Family Limited, headed by chartered surveyor Daniel Hearsum. So I asked him why he expected payment and confirmation of the booking in June, when from his side, he was unable to say whether he could provide any reception at all, and clearly could not offer a reception of the size you had booked a year earlier. He explained that he had withdrawn the original deadline for your decision, but regarded his terms and conditions as a binding contract. I could quibble over this, as the contract fails to name his company, but the more important bottom line was that he could not provide the 60-person reception you had booked. This was not his fault, but nor was it yours, of course. 

And while this toing and froing was going on, the Competition and Markets Authority had been doing sterling work on the subject of wedding bookings, using a 1943 law about ‘frustrated contracts’ which could not be carried out – in this case, because lockdown laws made the booking impossible. 

The CMA investigated one particular wedding firm and allowed it to hang on to certain expenses it had already had to meet, but emphasised that the starting point was that couples were entitled to a full refund, even if the terms and conditions said otherwise. 

This was an impressively fast and fair piece of work from the CMA, but unfortunately a different wedding firm then told lots of others that the CMA had set a ‘benchmark’ allowing them to keep 37 per cent of the original full price, minus an allowance for the time since lockdown began. And Daniel Hearsum cheerfully told me that this meant he could keep the whole £1,750, though he added that ‘we will offer a goodwill refund of £750, if that is an amicable end of the matter’. 

The CMA was startled to be told by me that its boss Andrea Coscelli had supposedly set a firm benchmark allowing wedding firms to keep a fixed percentage of deposits without having to provide a reception. This was completely false, officials insisted, adding, ‘This is not a benchmark. We have never used the word benchmark, and there is no benchmark.’

In a nutshell, wedding firms have to justify keeping a single penny, by showing they have forked out – for example – for such things as flowers, cars, catering staff, food, and so on. Pembroke Lodge management have come up with no figures, saying only that, ‘Between June 2019 and June 2020 we worked hard to prepare and plan for A’s wedding.’ 

They claim: ‘We offered to bear 80 per cent (some £6,500) of the cancellation losses.’ But there is no breakdown of this sum, and nothing to show what Pembroke Lodge might or might not already have spent. 

The outcome is that there is on the table a ‘goodwill refund’ of £750, leaving you £1,000 out of pocket. Only you can decide whether to make the best of a bad job. But I am sure other couples will form their own view, and I suspect it will be closer to the CMA’s wise starting point that if a company can’t do the job, then the customer is entitled to a full refund. 

Will Sainsbury’s refund my card bill? 

E.B. writes: Please help me. I am 80 years old and in poor health, and I cannot get Sainsbury’s Bank to give me a refund. 

The amounts in dispute are £375 and £762, both paid to Fleetway Travel on my Sainsbury’s card.

In each case, Sainsbury’s has told me it has asked Fleetway for a refund, which implies that Sainsbury’s is unaware that Fleetway has ceased trading. 

Money back: Mr B has now received his refund, and a gesture of goodwill as it did take a little longer than usual

Money back: Mr B has now received his refund, and a gesture of goodwill as it did take a little longer than usual

Money back: Mr B has now received his refund, and a gesture of goodwill as it did take a little longer than usual

Fleetway Travel fell into administration in July. 

It did have cash in the bank and other assets worth several million pounds in total, but nothing like enough to pay off the roughly £11 million owed to ordinary customers. 

When a business ceases trading, card issuers have to go through a chargeback process. Under rules set by Mastercard, the business is allowed 45 days to object to the claim, though Sainsbury’s did in fact go past this. 

A spokesman told me you had been reassured that you would not be liable for the money – or for any interest charged – and added: ‘Mr B has now received his refund, and a gesture of goodwill as it did take a little longer than usual.’

If you believe you are the victim of financial wrongdoing, write to Tony Hetherington at Financial Mail, 2 Derry Street, London W8 5TS or email Because of the high volume of enquiries, personal replies cannot be given. Please send only copies of original documents, which we regret cannot be returned. 


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JEFF PRESTRIDGE: Neil Woodford must be held to account




jeff prestridge neil woodford must be held to account

Financial justice is rarely swift in this country. The wheels turn excruciatingly slowly and examples of judicial or regulatory procrastination are aplenty. Unfair? Of course. But sadly it seems the wheels will not be speeding up in the near future. 

It took 11 years for customers of Equitable Life to receive compensation after the insurer nearly collapsed, causing their policies to plunge in value. 

Twenty years on from that near meltdown, investors are still valiantly demanding more – £4billion (the amount they lost) instead of the £1.4billion that has so far been handed out by the Government. 

Unfair: Neil Woodford has retreated to his multi-million pound home in the Cotswolds to enjoy the good life

Unfair: Neil Woodford has retreated to his multi-million pound home in the Cotswolds to enjoy the good life

Unfair: Neil Woodford has retreated to his multi-million pound home in the Cotswolds to enjoy the good life

I wish them well although I don’t hold out much hope for them in these challenging times. 

Victims of banking malpractice in the run-up to the 2008 financial crisis, and its aftermath, are also still fighting for justice with class actions before the courts. A chance of victory is on the horizon, but no more. Legal hurdles need to be cleared and courts to be convinced. 

It also seems that those who lost money in the mismanagement of investment fund Woodford Equity Income – some up to 50 per cent of the value of their original investment – will have to wait quite a while for financial justice to be served. 

Litigation specialists are edging closer to mounting group class actions against companies involved in the fund debacle – namely Woodford’s supervisor Link and wealth manager Hargreaves Lansdown which aggressively promoted the fund right up until it was closed in June last year. 

Harcus Parker appears to be leading the charge with a claim likely to be issued – hiccups notwithstanding – against Link before the year is out. 

But when it presses the green button, success is not guaranteed – and only those investors who support the claim will take a slice of any spoils. It could be another two years before we get to such a position. Frustrating for aggrieved investors of which there are plenty.  

Of course, justice could come sooner if the financial regulator does the job it is paid to do – which is to protect consumers and secure redress for them when they have been victims of financial wrongdoing. Indeed, it would remove the need for any of the class actions. For the past 17 months, it has been investigating the events leading up to the fund’s closure, but it has yet to pronounce on what it intends to do. All it would say last week was that its probe is a ‘priority matter’. 

Unlike the litigation, the Financial Conduct Authority’s focus is not just on Link or Hargreaves Lansdown. It is also looking at the role of Neil Woodford in the fund’s suspension and ultimate demise – and in particular the game of Russian Roulette he played with investors’ money by investing it in a toxic mix of unquoted and illiquid stocks. 

So far, Woodford has not been held to account. Bankrolled by the millions of pounds he earnt from the failed fund – outrageously, a chunk of it while it was suspended – he has retreated to his multi-million pound home in the Cotswolds to enjoy the good life.

He’s even been touting for business in China, although coronavirus seems to have put that project on hold. 

While most Woodford Equity Income investors I speak to want financial justice – delivered either through the courts or via the regulator – they also believe Woodford must carry the can. I agree. 

The regulator’s findings cannot be published soon enough – investors deserve nothing less. 

And when they see the light of day, they must pack a punch that Muhammad Ali would have been proud of. That means financial redress for investors and enforcement action against those responsible for one of the biggest investment fund debacles of recent times. 


Through their high street presence, post offices generate £1.1billion of revenue for local businesses – as customers use their trip to town to have a coffee or a meal, or use other services. 

As the Post Office says, it is an ‘anchor’ of the high street. 

So why can banks – an equally vital local service – be allowed to shut their branches at a rate quicker than confetti falls at a wedding – without any form of accountability? 

Their presence has a similar galvanising effect on the high street. Do email me if you have any thoughts on this.


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