November could see a mini peaks period if testing and quarantine advice is changed in time, the latest TTG Agent Matters panel heard.
The Travel Village’s Phil Nuttall said: “Confidence will come from a change in government policy.
“I think we could have a mini wave, a mini peaks, in November. I think there’s a real possibility of that, we are going to see cruise lines launching summer 22; we’re going to see the likes of Tui I think, launching products for 22, so November is a month that could be quite productive for everybody.”
However, he said the government had to be seen to be making efforts to open destinations.
Nuttall was speaking in the Agent Matters – Operation Survival webinar with Graeme Brett, Westoe Travel and Travel Counsellor Katrina Smith shortly before the government’s announcement that it would set up a Global Travel Taskforce.
Brett said he believed peaks would be back in some form: “We were hoping July and August was going to happen and it didn’t, so we are working on the basis peaks will happen.
“We’ve been trying to get across to customers that if they missed out this year then next they perhaps want to spend a little bit more. From a financial point of view we need peaks to happen. We need to get some money in before the end of the financial year and peaks is probably the last opportunity to do that.
“The problem with bookings for next year is everybody is paying a deposit. We don’t get commission on a deposit so we are actually losing money because we are passing it to the tour operator but having to pay the credit card and bank charges. I’d like operators to acknowledge that and pay a commission – if the customers is currently paying £100 deposit, increase it to £110 so we can take a commission.”
The panel agreed FCDO advice was still a constraint: Smith warned: “Some form of peaks will happen, I don’t think it will be anything like what we would normally see.
“A lot of clients are not as bothered by quarantine because they are working from home, but it is that FCDO advice - they are not going to be covered by insurance. That is a really, really big deterrent,” said Smith.
Brett added: “Our professional indemnity advice would not cover us if we sent anyone against FCO advice.”
All blasted the government for inaction on jobs as well as testing.
Smith said: “Some of us are sole traders and getting government help, but a lot have registered companies and are getting no help whatsoever. They are really struggling.” Some were quitting, others were taking second jobs, she said.
Brett dismissed chancellor Rishi Sunak’s latest jobs retention scheme: “I haven’t found anybody that’s going to use the scheme,’ he said. “You are getting a third of the week’s work and paying 55% of the wages. So for every three staff, you’re paying 165% of one person’s wage. It’s really just a con job.”
“Graeme is spot on,” said Nuttall. “It all boils down to the fact that the government doesn’t understand the travel industry. The government is hell-bent on destroying this industry.”
However he said: “They are now starting to realise we have to get people moving and the economy going. But nobody is preparing to take responsibility and the job scheme is not worth the paper it’s written on.”
Smith called for travel to join with other sectors in lobbying. “I think the government only cares about white collar workers and property. It might be possible to join up with these other groups that have been forgotten.”
Brett criticised efforts so far: “We are relying on writing letters and somebody at Abta ringing somebody at the transport department.
“To me that’s 1970s campaigning; modern campaigning is using professional lobbyists. When the last transport debate took place it was all about British Airways and their unions because they had properly lobbied MPs.”
He said Lufthansa used lobbyists in Westminster but no UK travel firm did. “We have got to employ lobbyists.”
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