Travel agents are urging operators to bring back furloughed staff as business picks up to avoid leaving them hanging for hours on the phone.
Agent Trena Lewis of Jersey-based World Travel said one operator with long wait times missed out on an £7k booking after a rival company picked up the phone in 10 minutes.
She told Travel Gossip: “Prestige secured the booking on this occasion by being quick to pick up then being comprehensive in their assistance, their good service levels, and commitment to helping with all the queries my colleague needed to convert the booking quickly.
“On that basis we would look to use them again.”
Trena said that while she appreciated the financial implications of tour operators bringing back staff when business is only just starting to pick up, she urged them to ‘take a leap of faith’ for their future survival.
“Even the most straightforward of bookings can now take so much longer than pre-COVID due to all the variables that have to be checked, so time is even more precious when trying to convert,” she said.
“Companies such as Prestige who have given this huge commitment are duly rewarded with business.”
Other suppliers receiving praise from agents on Travel Gossip’s Facebook group for speedy response times include Viking and easyJet holidays.
Some agents said they avoid calling other operators who have become notorious for leaving them hanging on the phone. “I don’t have the time to wait to get through to a supplier, especially if there is someone else who picks up sooner,” said one.
Another agent pointed out the frustration of them bringing staff back to work to cope with rising demand only for tour operators to take hours – or even days – to respond to changes. She said it was especially annoying when operators respond faster to queries they receive direct from clients.
One agent called out a tour operator for taking nearly THREE weeks to amend a £10k quote, pointing out that it was embarrassing for her to leave her client waiting for a response.
However, other agents said they were sympathetic to operators’ predicament, given that those selling long-haul destinations have very little they can sell at the moment.