Travel professionals are continuing to sell holidays during the Coronavirus crisis, according to the results of the first TTG Travel Agent Tracker.
In a survey of 416 travel agents across the UK & Ireland, almost one in three (32%) had made a sale in the week ending 10 April, despite high street premises being closed and the majority of retail staff believed to be on furlough.
However 75% said sales were down from the previous week – and 58% said they had received no customer enquiries at all.
Destinations booked were mainly long haul, with US destinations New York and Las Vegas regularly cited alongside Canada, Mauritius, the Maldives, Australia and the Caribbean.
Cruises were also booked, including a Mediterranean cruise in December 2020, a small ship cruise in Alaska and a yacht cruise in Croatia.
Most travel was booked for 2021 including seven out of 10 reporting sales for next summer and beyond, although 47% also reported making sales for later this year.
One agent had booked a flight from Canada to the UK for a British doctor who wanted to return to help the NHS.
Almost six out of 10 (57%) of holidays booked were at a level of more than £1,000 per passenger.
Sandals, Gold Medal and Travel 2 and Railbookers were all regularly name checked as suppliers that many agents had heard from in recent weeks - while others mentioned included P&O and Cunard.
One agent praised JTA for having helped with a booking out of hours on Good Friday, while another said the same supplier had been “fantastic with answering the ‘what if’ questions my customers have”.
Jet2holidays was praised for its decisive decision on cancelling up until June, its constant communication and for refunding and not giving vouchers, as well as for an Easter egg game last week.
“Jet2holidays’ policy of amending holidays has been so straightforward and has really helped agents,” said one respondent.
Viking Cruises and Scenic River Cruises also came in for strong support for keeping agents fully up to date, and helping customers with cancellations and refunds.
The biggest concern of travel agents last week was customer cancellations and the difficulty of obtaining refunds.
TTG Media will be surveying agents throughout the crisis with the Travel Agent Tracker – look out for our regular emails, and help us build a picture of the changing travel industry during the coronavirus crisis.