Product Director Nick Boden shares the latest update on Post Office Travel Money and the wider industry.
I expect many of us continue to be a little confused and frustrated with the ongoing impact that Covid-19 is having on our daily routines, local rule changes and the wider travel industry as a whole. Since I began these regular updates there have been many changes to the government and FCO guidelines, which of course continue today, so we remain in a very fluid situation when we consider our Travel Money services.
There is some good news as we are adding 10 new currencies to sell and top up in branch on the Travel Money Card from today (16 September).
However, in my August communication I used the word “turbulence” as my description of the Covid-19 pandemic and the travel industry, and I continue to see this as a relevant description of the situation that we have continued to see across August and will undoubtedly continue to see as we enter into our 3rd quarter performance period in October.
We are continuing to see our daily sales performance react to new quarantine rules, and as such our final week’s trading performance in August saw a further reduction in sales following the FCO quarantine rules on France coming into effect.
A recent Mintel report highlighted travellers’ confidence remaining volatile with events such as regional lockdowns, rising Covid-19 cases and the reintroduction of quarantining measures for several overseas holiday destinations (most notably Spain and France) impacting customer demand for travel. Consequently, we envisage staycations to continue to be boosted by this news.
Our August Customer Insights data showed that only 13% of respondents felt totally comfortable in booking a holiday abroad and only 12% were totally comfortable with going on holiday abroad. One of the areas it asks customers about is concern for the economy, and it showed that 25% of respondents saw the economy as becoming an increasing priority among consumers and has naturally moved to top of mind at a time when large, legacy businesses have been making job cuts and people consequently believe it will impact their personal finances. On a more positive note, our July survey results showed improved consumer results compared with May for both our “pre-order online and collect in branch” and “go to a branch and purchase on the day”. Unfortunately, I see these positive consumer preferences being more than offset by the ongoing travel situation mentioned above.
For branches where we have currently paused Travel Money registrations, our outlook on the travel market, the ongoing Covid-19 situation and the continued impact across our Travel Money sales performance means we are not planning to re-register any of those branches in September, and I expect this position may continue until we see a significant uplift in traveller numbers. Those branches can still sell and top up Travel Money Cards and process online orders.
I appreciate everyone’s ongoing understanding in these unprecedented times and look forward to sharing my next update in due course.