‘Clients have forgotten all the help I gave them during COVID and are booking online – I feel used’

By Lisa James
15/01/2024
Home » ‘Clients have forgotten all the help I gave them during COVID and are booking online – I feel used’

An agent says she feels used by clients who regularly booked with her during the pandemic but who’ve now reverted to booking their own holidays.

The agent, who doesn’t want to give her name, spoke to Travel Gossip after reporting sales during the first week of Peaks had been disappointing.

She said: “I’ve noticed customers who booked with me during COVID have gone back to DIY holidays. It’s noticeable because I’m in quite a small village.

“During COVID, people wanted help with testing and forms and started booking with me. A lot commented how easy I made it for them as they received an email checklist and I also helped complete the UK entry forms.

“Once things started to get back to normal, some immediately went back to booking their holidays themselves and some booked maybe one with me until they felt confident and then went back to DIY bookings. To be honest I feel used.”

The agent said she doesn’t think it’s a result of the cost-of-living crisis.

“I’m in pretty affluent area and I don’t get a lot of customers saying they’ve looked at OTAs and can I match?

“And in some cases they’re booking holidays that I have price parity for, so I don’t really understand. Now it’s easier to book again, I think they want to be back in control.

“I’m tempted to put a post on my page asking why those who used to book with me no longer do, just to see if any would have the balls to say they were just using me during COVID and no longer think they need me.”

Other agents say customers are shopping around, with one reporting ‘a lot more people are wanting price matches on options you send and do the work for’.

Exclusive Travel Holidays Managing Director Ian Robinson said: “We are getting people calling with travel questions and when I ask: ‘Are you looking to book something?’ they reply: ‘We’ve just booked a simple holiday to Morocco for the six of us. When we want something special we’ll call you’.”

Another agent said: “People seem to want a ‘bargain’ and if they want to DIY it, then leave them to it. I can’t be bothered with the hassle anymore.”

Henbury Travel Managing Director Richard Slater said some operators have also forgotten agents.

He said: “A big problem is that the operators who we supported, and took all the flack for when they weren’t paying out [during COVID], seem to have also forgotten agents.

“Some might say there are double standards, on the one hand operators are shouting about their expanded agent sales teams, but on the other hand these very same operators seem to have forgotten the ‘See your travel agent’ call to action in their press and TV ads, which is strange because agents are experts at upselling and increasing operators sales. Therefore the clients are not all to blame.”

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