Two agents review a traumatic 12 months for the industry and reveal their strategies for bouncing back in 2021 and beyond…
Some days over the past year I’ve struggled to get my positive pants on while dealing with rebookings, chasing up refunds and getting through to tour operators. But there are definitely positives on the horizon, and I’d like to thank the SPAA – the Scottish Passenger Agents’ Association – which has been fabulous at campaigning for us.
Its Wednesday morning coffee chat – or a “blether” as it’s known up here – has been extremely productive with agents from leisure and business as well as sales managers all joining in. We have 10 minutes of business chat and then it can be anything from puppies and babies to exercising and parcel deliveries! Of course, we often revert to travel matters as well.
A few recent events have also helped get me back into positive mode again, the first of which was rebooking a Venice trip for the fifth time for clients the other day!
I also organised an online Africa event. I sent clients an invite to come and enjoy “sundowners on safari”, posting them a miniature bottle of Amarula to enjoy on our “game drive” round Sabi Sands, Cape Town and Victoria Falls. I had more than 30 clients online at 4pm on a Tuesday afternoon, and a week later I had a £27,000 Botswana booking in the bag along with two extensive South Africa itineraries.
I then held a Silversea event for 14 people, producing two fabulous bookings for Japan and Singapore/Hong Kong, with the clients paying in full a few days later to take advantage of the early-booking discount even though travel is late 2022 and January 2023.
So hang in there everyone – we’ll be back under a pile of confirmations soon!
It is really just over a year since we went into this nightmare?
Once again comments in the national media regarding not booking holidays for the summer have surfaced in the headlines, just as our bookings had started to pick up.
The client phone calls went from “Can I book this?” to “Can I change? Can I cancel? Can you tell me what’s going on?”.
It’s something I have asked myself many times, and I am sure so many others have. What is indeed going on?
I once likened owning a travel agency to riding a rollercoaster. Well, this past year has been more than a white-knuckle ride. It’s done so many loop the loops it’s felt like the wheels have come off a few times and I was flying through the air!
I have also said that it has been like living in one of those disaster movies you see on Netflix. But actually this is more like one of those damn series that goes on and on, and you just want it to come to an end.
Right now, the overriding feeling is deja vu as I look at my bookings thinking: “Well, 2022 looks good”.
Despite it all, we have to keep going. One foot in front of the other until it’s over.
The next few months are going to define the future of the travel industry. Hopefully, this disaster movie is coming to a positive end.
To set the scene with a quote from another movie… picture people gazing into the sky: “Is it a bird, is it a plane?”. Well, no disrespect to Superman but I just want it to be a plane.