A Return to Travel – How to Get There
At the time of this printing, it will have been over 5 months since I have flown on an airplane.
That is the longest I have gone since starting to work in the travel industry over 35 years ago. To say these times are unprecedented does not do justice to what has happened to our industry since February. This is the first time in anyone alive’s memory that the world has 100% completely shut down. What started out looking to be a banner year for tourism quickly came to a grinding halt and turned into a nightmare of cancellations and re-bookings. The one silver lining may be the newfound respect and appreciation for the use of a Travel Advisor. Who else was there for the thousands of consumers who found themselves unable to take their much anticipated vacation?
But That’s Looking Back – Let’s Look Ahead
In an informal poll we took of 100 of our Travel Advisor readers, about 2/3 of those polled reported that inquiries and requests were starting to come in again. That’s great news! But what is it going to take to turn those inquires into bookings? In a word – communication. The travel landscape is changing on a daily basis, and it is difficult for those of us who work in the industry to keep up with, never mind your clients.
Countries are opening, but not necessarily to Americans, and most that have opened have strict requirements for entry. Beach resorts are opening but some countries’ public beaches remain closed. Some airlines are blocking middle seats, others aren’t. The list goes on and on, but the point is, it is up to you to stay up to date with these changes and communicate them to your clients.
Where Will Your Clients Want to Go?
Most industry pundits agree that for this summer and fall, domestic travel will take center stage. Many tour operators have moved quickly to put together or enhance their domestic vacation packages. Keep an eye out for these offers and actively market them to your client base. RV rentals are another popular option this summer and the major companies, CruiseAmerica and El Monte, pay agent commissions.
As I write this in late June, it was just announced that cruising from US ports has been suspended through September. Expect the cruise lines to use this time to develop the procedures and policies necessary to put your cruise loving clients’ minds at ease about booking a cruise this fall and winter. And, if the new protocols won’t convince them to book, the generous offers and incentives will.
In terms of international travel, the reality is that most countries are a safer place to be than the US, as far as Covid-19 is concerned. However, the airlines need to do a much better job of implementing and communicating the procedures they have initiated to keep their passengers safe. And, as I mentioned, most countries have Covid-19 procedures in place that your clients will need to be aware of. While international bookings have started coming in, most will be for travel
Months of quarantine will result in tremendous pent up demand for travel. The savvy Travel Advisor will be able to capitalize on this demand by keeping current on the trends and actively communicating them to clients.