Before the pandemic, most people had got accustomed to the idea of booking their vacation and quick trips home online themselves. Even businesses saw a rise in the use of online booking tools. Instant results and booking features coupled with digital marketing tactics like coupons codes, instant discounts and other offers fueled this adoption especially among the younger generation. However, since the pandemic started, with all of the uncertainty surrounding it and with the constantly changing travel restrictions, lock-downs and regulations that have come with it, online bookings have become a stressful task. This has seen people move to travel professionals once again.
Visiting a different country (or even town) without a proper understanding of their policies and Covid-19 related guidelines have become a major challenge. So having a experienced travel adviser helps make sure everything goes smoothly. They can also provide the much needed support in case of change in plans or last minute surprises by the authorities or service providers. As travels restart and businesses and borders reopen, more people, including business travelers, are seeking the guidance of travel consultants, whose job it is to be up to date with changing regulations and to troubleshoot issues for their clients.
Apart from their industry connections and vast feedbacks they get from their customers, they have also often been on the road, seen the places, and experienced the services. They know which places better good amenities and what to expect from various brands and service providers out there. Agents most often also have special relationships that can lead to discounts that more than offset the small service fee they charge. And of course, with their distributor or provider level connections, they also have can also nab upgrades or other perks that no computer search can provide.
A recent study by Travelport, a global travel distribution company, found that 33% of travelers anticipated an increase in approaching travel advisers because of the pandemic. The biggest change was among those ages 18 to 38. The study reveals that over 39% of customers in that category are now more likely to book upcoming trips through a travel agent. Another study by Sandals Resorts in association with the the American Society of Travel Advisors shows about 44% of travelers who rarely used a travel agent before the pandemic are likely to turn to one now. That’s higher than the 27% of travelers who have frequently used such a professional before Covid-19 altered the travel landscape.
Planning a trip abroad or even within your country now requires more than the usual online search for cheap flights and fairly good hotels. Customers need to know when they can reasonably go, which countries are ready to accept them, what will be open, what entry requirements their destination may demand and, if they care about such things, which hotels have implemented proper or additional protocols to stay safe from the virus. So they are increasingly connecting with travel agents for help with trips that they had already booked themselves, ranging from using future travel credits to navigating Covid-19 restrictions.
If you consider this in a broader picture it makes sense that more people are turning to travel professionals. People seek the advice of professionals for big purchases such as their homes and cars, and travel is often one of the largest expenses most people have in a year. Especially in these unprecedented times where there is always a possibility of borders closing or flights getting canceled, it give you a feeling of safety to know that your travel adviser is already ahead of issues. From alerting you on possible changes to getting your itineraries rescheduled or refunded, agents can especially following a year in which so many travelers were burned. Similarly, as hotels and flights fill up with eager travelers, travel agents can make sure travel happens without hassles for their clients.
It’s a welcome change to see people realise the true value of a travel agent. From their firsthand knowledge of the new normals in travel to the out-of-box solutions they bring to table, and the human touch that we all very much need in this day and age.
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