Flexibility and integrity will be key to ensure agents are a key part of holidaymakers’ plans this summer – and beyond, two leading agents have told TTG.
For the May edition of TTG, Emma McHugh from Atlantic Travel Worldchoice and James Beagrie from Meon Valley Travel picked out some of their key sales and service maxims as travel restarts.
Beagrie said with the situation so finely poised, and consumer confidence on a knife-edge, it was vital all travel operators pulled together to preserve the industry’s reputation.
McHugh, meanwhile, her team were discouraging immediate getaways in favour of more considered travel later in the year.
She added it was vital government contributed to the recovery by implementing clear and concise strategies for the resumption of international travel.
Here’s what the pair had to say.
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We can feel it and see it – the symptoms of holiday deficiency are real, and the desire to rectify the deprivation is creating an undercurrent that is slowly starting to simmer and will rapidly erupt in the coming months.
While the market in the UK is a few months ahead of that here in the Republic of Ireland, we are starting to look at when international travel will make a meaningful return. The Digital Green Certificate (DGC) that will come into effect from early summer is the focus of how and where we will be able to travel to in 2021.
Our clients are daring to hope they will see the return of leisure travel later this summer, and the most frequent questions we are fielding now are whether vaccinations will be a requirement and what the DGC will exempt consumers from in relation to quarantine and testing.
Clients are also asking about flexible booking options and what will happen if they cannot travel. While we are optimistic about a return to international travel in Q3 and Q4 this year, we are advising clients not to book anything just yet for summer 2021, until we have a clearer picture of when the DGC will be implemented and what requirements will be in place.
Everyone has a destination they plan on visiting when restrictions lift, and the feedback is that we, the travel agents, will be a part of the consumer journey for some time to come. Consumer confidence is high when it comes to booking with us. The government also needs to contribute by having a clear, concise strategy for the return to international travel.
We need to be ready for when the floodgates open. That day will come, and we will be back doing what we do best.
Emma McHugh is the owner of Atlantic Travel Worldchoice in Letterkenny, County Donegal.
We’ve been awaiting the traffic light announcement with bated breath. The pent-up appetite for safe summer travel to welcoming sunny shores is straining at the leash, and we’re itching to go.
We’re fed up with constant changes and carrier schedule amendments, and very judgemental of any failure to accommodate flexibility to allow the excitement of booking without the risk of financial loss.
Who would have imagined a year ago that Simon Calder would tell us all "the safest place to put your money is with a travel agent"?
Everyone has their own comfort level, and with world-leading vaccination rates we Brits appear more comfortable each day. Destinations are tempting Joe Public with encouraging noises, yet we remain prudent and careful to ensure maximum booking flexibility.
Many operators have deferred balance due dates, which we love. Most offer flexible T&Cs in the event of changes but some still insist on clients committing to travel or losing their money, even when a country changes
to red and inbound quarantine is required at £1,700pp for a family of four – really?
Come on, guys, let’s get honest here. If we’re not making money, all we have left to protect is our reputation, so please don’t trash that.
Thankfully, as with most businesses, the cream always rises to the top and those hero operators out there – and you know who you are – will deserve our gratitude and unyielding support through recovery and beyond.
Thank you to all those with a conscience and a backbone.
James Beagrie is the managing director of Meon Valley Travel in Petersfield, Hampshire.