By Barney Pierce, SVP, Strategic Partnerships, APAC, Cover Genius
India has experienced major upheavals in the airline industry ranging from flight delays to cancellations, and much more. According to industry data, at least one-third of all domestic flights are late and this number doesn’t seem to be improving. In January 2023, airlines denied boarding to 594 passengers, and more than 27,000 passengers were affected by flight cancellations. With this, it’s no surprise that there has been an increase in demand for travel and refund protection solutions for the third largest aviation market in the world.
Factors including weather conditions, commercial and technical complications, overbooking, unserviceable seats and staffing shortages have resulted in consumers being extremely cautious when booking travel. Online travel companies and airlines need to go beyond offering standard travel protection that leaves travelers unprotected in times of need. To offer customers total peace of mind and protect them in these times of needs, personalized protection solutions like ‘Cancel for Any Reason’ (CFAR) Refund Protection can help.
Cancel for Any Reason (CFAR) protection enables digital companies like Booking Holdings, owner of Priceline, Kayak and Booking.com, redBus, MakeMyTrip to give their customers peace of mind when they book their next big trip. It allows travel companies to build trust and loyalty with their customers with protection embedded directly in the booking path and a seamless refund experience that doesn’t require customers to provide a reason for cancellation.
A recent global report found that consumers who are offered ‘Cancel for Any Reason’ (CFAR) protection, when booking their travel, are highly likely (60%) to purchase the underlying airfare, compared to a more limited refund protection option or no protection at all. In fact, consumers are willing to pay 133% more for CFAR protection than non-CFAR protection when booking airfare, desiring a convenient, hassle-free experience.The same research shows that despite high consumer demand for CFAR protection, 4 out of 10 respondents were not offered ‘Refund Protection’ for their most recent airfare purchase. This gap presents an opportunity for travel providers and airlines to grow customer satisfaction and ancillary revenue by offering CFAR Refund Protection for their next booking.
CFAR Refund Protection for comprehensive coverage
CFAR gives travelers added comfort and flexibility when booking airfare by providing them with the option to make their tickets refundable with just a few clicks directly in the customer journey. They can complete their seamless experience with a digital, automated claims process that provides travelers with instant refunds via a range of payment methods. With CFAR, travelers can request refunds without having to provide documentation or fill out paperwork. And unlike standard travel protection that might cover limited reasons like medical or transport interruption only, CFAR protection enables them to submit a refund request for any reason, no questions asked.
Bundled and unbundled protection tailored to each traveller
No two trips are the same. For example, a traveler booking a first-class, long-haul flight with checked luggage has very different needs from somebody that has booked a short, domestic flight for a weekend away — and their protection should reflect that.
By partnering with insurtechs, travel companies can take the guesswork out of protection. To meet the particular needs of each passenger, travel protection can be unbundled and solutions can be built for any number of situations that can be tailored to any customer’s itinerary or destination. Travel companies can choose the protection their customers actually need, whether it be Airline Collapse Cover for the wary flier, emergency medical assistance for an extended stay, personal electronics cover for short-haul business travelers, or rental car excess for a weekend road trip. We have been co-creating similar solutions for our partners.
When SkyScanner reached out to us in the Spring of 2020, travel insurance policies were not fit for the circumstances of a global pandemic, and we had to act quickly to meet customer needs. We worked with SkyScanner to create Covid Cover, a suite of hyper-relevant products which importantly had no exclusions for Covid-19: medical, trip cancellation (including cover in the event of denied boarding due to a failed health check) and airline insolvency cover. Through our partnership, we were able to create a first-of-its kind offering to seamlessly protect Skyscanner’s global customers.
Personalized travel protection is no longer an option but a must-have for travel companies and airlines. In order to fulfill the needs of today’s travelers, it must be fit-for-purpose, convenient and full-service to truly protect them from all manner of uncertainties and ‘what-ifs”.