Spain, besides being one of the most visited countries worldwide, is also a notable market for outbound international tourism. The travel assistance sector for Spanish travellers is showing signs of dynamism as it recovers from the Covid-19 pandemic, alongside the tourism industry. However, recovery has been slower for the assistance industry than for tourism – primarily due to the impact of inflation and the wider geopolitical situation.
The travel assistance sector’s greatest challenge currently is how to become more agile and efficient to respond to traveller needs. This is a path we are already going down, with technology being the primary tool being used to achieve this.
The Spanish traveller
Data on international tourism shows that Spaniards usually travel several times a year, with the destination and duration of the trip shifting depending on the season – with short trips being taken during the non-holiday period, and trips lasting around 10 days in summertime. Usually, these trips are couples’ getaways or family holidays.
Geographic adjacency is important in dictating the preferences of Spanish tourists – with trips to Europe representing 85 per cent of journeys abroad. Paris was the most in-demand destination this summer, followed by Rome, London, Athens, Amsterdam and Malta. Among longer-distance trips, preferred destinations include Bali, Bangkok, New York, Havana, Tokyo and Buenos Aires.
Customers want to have timely, high quality assistance, accessible through a digital experience that reduces waiting times
The Spanish market is characterised by a high presence of intermediation, with many travellers using tour operators or travel agencies that specialise in certain types of destinations or trips. Therefore, it is key for the travel insurance offer to have a customisable coverage proposal, adapting to the needs of each type of client.
There are some booming trends that, without carrying significant volume, are opening new segments for the assistance sector. These include student-specific travel, trips for the purpose of sports, and adventure activities. MAPFRE already has insurance for such cases, with very good acceptance rates by customers.
Another growing trend is the increasing popularity of annual policies, which cover all trips made during a year. Although temporary policies, limited to a single trip, are still more common, the annual coverage, with a premium only slightly higher than for temporary policies, is in increasing demand.
Assistance market in Spain
The Covid-19 pandemic in Spain has – as it has in many other countries – resulted in a higher percentage of travellers now looking to purchase travel insurance compared with pre-pandemic levels. This is due to greater concern among the general public of the possibility of unforeseen events during trips, such as the potential to incur medical expenses – but also due to other issues prior to the trip, such as cancellation costs.
The most in-demand coverage continues to be medical assistance, followed by coverage for incidents involving luggage, and delays or cancellation of transport. For the Spanish traveller, there is almost unanimous consensus about the key role of travel flexibility for their bookings, so cancellation coverage is also one of the most important.
Medical assistance coverage has the greatest improvement potential, thanks to technological innovation. Customers want to have timely, high quality assistance, accessible through a digital experience that reduces waiting times for medical care and treatment, as well as the reimbursement processes. The Spanish market is also demanding benefits with higher limits that extend their protection abroad, as well as coverage for pre-existing conditions.
APIs enable quick and easy integration with our partners’ digital business channels
The main ways we are looking to improve the quality of our customers’ travel environment are the digitalisation of processes, telemedicine, and the use of application programming interfaces (APIs) when working with our digital partners.
MAWDY: digitalisation at the customer’s disposal
Digitalisation is becoming a must-have for the future. At MAWDY, MAPFRE’s assistance unit, we rolled out our new brand with an offer focused on digitisation and the needs of both our partners and end customers.
To this end, we created MiA Travel, our digital, multichannel traveller assistance solution – a progressive web app (PWA) which offers end customers access to a range of important travel information about their destination.
Advancing in telemedicine
When a health problem arises, we facilitate an early online consultation with a professional in the patient’s language. Additionally, we can provide a medical prescription valid in the country the patient is in, which they receive directly on a mobile or digital device.
With the use of geolocation, the traveller can also see where the closest medical facilities are, such as healthcare centres or pharmacies. This, together with other technical innovations, offers significant improvements to remote assistance provision.
More than a service: a solution for the partner
APIs are one of the main elements in which our relationship with our partners is evolving. The ‘APIfication’ of all of our business-to-business (B2B) services enables quick and easy integration with our partners’ digital business channels.
In the travel line, we work not only with tourism industry players such as travel agencies, tour operators, airlines and transport providers, but also with digital partners such as e-commerce sites and online marketplaces, and financial companies as well as telecommunications, utilities and retail companies.