The effects of Covid-19 on the travel industry have left many independent travel bookers with a sour taste. Airlines, accommodation providers and ancillary services have received negative press for rejecting or delaying refund requests. Inflexible booking policies for unfortunate travellers were extremely problematic despite the unprecedented circumstances. With limited financial protection on independent bookings, many travellers have learned the hard way that booking independently can potentially cost them time and money.

Financial protection and customer service have become essential

Consumer confidence has been hit hard by the pandemic, resulting in increased demand for domestic tourism in many parts of the world. According to GlobalData’s most recent global Covid-19 consumer survey in December, 38% of respondents said they intend to reduce international travel this year, reflecting decreased demand for international travel.

For many travellers, tailoring their own holiday is all part of the experience. Staying in control of itineraries, accommodation and experiences allows them to create a holiday that meets their exact needs. Self-packaged trips also allow the booker to budget effectively, manage time and build complex, highly personalised itineraries. This freedom of booking is particularly appealing to solo travellers and backpackers. However, the ripple effect of the pandemic on travel and tourism has hit independent travel bookers hard due to the lack of financial protection on their trips. As a result, the independent booking method is under threat, thus creating a potential void for the solo traveller market.

Cost is a key element of independent travel booking. Over the past decade, services and tools have been made available online to help support this, such as Trivago, Skyscanner and Airbnb. The existence of sharing economy and price comparison sites has made it easier than ever to build unique, low-cost itineraries. The problem lies in the lack of customer service, booking conditions and flexibility. Package holidays through a reputable operator or travel agent may be slightly more expensive but in all likelihood, the traveller will be financially protected against insolvency and trip cancellations. Not to mention the traveller, more often than not, will have customer support on all aspects of their booking through one channel. This structure has proven to be an essential component for travellers in obtaining timely refunds during the pandemic.

Dynamic packaging is unlikely to replace independent travel booking

Dynamic packaging is a product that some tour operators and travel agents promote to combat the growth of self-packaged trips. It could be argued that more specialised operators existed in this market to begin with, but consolidation has led to more mainstream brands offering tailored holidays.

Dynamic packaging enables agencies to offer more personalised holidays for their travellers, but the pandemic has made this booking process much riskier. The collapse of Switzerland-based travel company STA Travel, one of the leading agencies for dynamic packaging, is a prime example. As a result, travel agencies are somewhat cautious about offering these types of holidays. In the current climate, what travellers are looking for is peace of mind, flexible booking policies and financial protection. The most secure way to do this is by booking a package holiday. For many travellers seeking more unique experiences, such as solo travellers, young couples and those aged 65 and above, this is a disappointing outlook in the short term. Product diversity will be required for long-term recovery and to ensure the industry has a sustainable future.

Latest reports from


Or to search over 50,000 other reports please visit

GlobalData Report Store

GlobalData is this website’s parent business intelligence company.