June Travel Money Update - Nick Boden
Last week saw some encouraging announcements from the Government regarding travel, the main one being that from Monday 19 July fully vaccinated adults and children under 18 visiting countries on the amber list will no longer need to self-isolate for 10 days on their return. (However, they will still need to pay for a test three days before they travel back to the UK and take a PCR test two days after they get back).
We are also seeing more complex rules as other Governments place increased restrictions on travellers from the UK. The Portuguese Government introduced new rules that apply to mainland Portugal travellers but not Madeira. Spain also has different rules for island and mainland travellers. Malta also announced that it is only allowing double-vaccinated people in from the UK and the latest news has created further confusion as it is refusing entry to children aged 12 and above who have not had both vaccinations.
On top of this we are being told that travellers may well face delays at airports on their return. As well as presenting their passport, travellers will also have to produce a passenger locator form, proof of a negative test and proof of vaccination - all of which will need to be checked.
Early indications are that demand has immediately increased for flights so it will therefore be interesting to see whether UK travellers will continue to prioritise staycations or, despite all of the complications, will now consider foreign travel as they look to get time away with their families.
Amid these changing requirements and ongoing restrictions, I am really pleased to share that, following a number of conversations with Postmasters over the last few weeks, the changes implemented with our supply chain colleagues to our branch currency stock holdings are working very well in readiness for when the market does pick up. This is good news as I am aware of previous challenges around receiving additional stock requests. The real proof will no doubt come as the travel market recovers, so I hope to provide further details on our stock situation in my future updates.
In my May update, I spoke about our marketing preparations and summer campaigns, which I am sure you can appreciate have been put on hold while the travel market remains subdued. We are therefore currently supporting branch marketing for Mails and will look to switch to our travel-related messages at a future date; this will very much depend on us starting to see growth in the travel market over the next couple of weeks. This is also the case for Travel Money Card rate sales - we had planned to start sales to support the school holiday period, but again these will be slightly delayed.
To ensure we are ready to react, we are continuing to hold weekly marketing meetings and preparing activity in advance where possible. One example of this is the development of radio scripts that could be used to promote different services at different times of the market recovery, such as our Refund Guarantee or Click & Collect – even if we don’t get an opportunity to use them we are still keen to be prepared and keep looking at these opportunities. We further support our weekly sessions with calls on the day of the Government announcements. We are also continuing to work with our social media colleagues to enhance our travel communications and support Postmaster and Area Manager posts to help increase awareness of any changes.
Area Managers have also run digital refresher training on getting your branch ‘travel ready’ and a Travel Money Card knowledge refresh. If you missed out and would value this support, please contact your Area Manager. Once we start to see better news and market uplift, they will be looking to offer repeat digital coaching support if required, together with greater focus on Travel during their branch support visits.
Outside our own planning, I can also share news that Hays Travel has launched a travel money card equivalent. Our early review of the features and fees indicates they are not as favourable to customers as our own - please ask your Area Manager if you’d like more information about this as we plan to update Area Managers as more information becomes available.
To wrap up, please remember that, as you can see above, the travel restrictions are changing all the time - we therefore recommend you check future Government information and news coverage so you have the latest information available. Thank you for your ongoing support and understanding and I look forward to sharing July’s performance in my next update.