What exactly is the mood of the travel agency community and what are their customers telling them about wanting to travel? Travel Gossip carried out some research among its agent members to find out. Our survey said…
Having to quarantine and the cost of COVID tests are top of customers’ worries. They’re also concerned about last-minute changes in the event their destination moves between traffic light zones; losing money if they cancel their holiday and battling to get refunds.
Six in 10 agents say public confidence in the travel industry is not very high, while a quarter describe it as low.
Some of our agent comments include:
“We are unable to give accurate and concise information, we are relied upon for this and all we can provide is assumption!”
“People are cautious of committing to any travel as it was so uncertain and ever-changing last year.”
“Even clients with pre-existing bookings that they have moved are refusing to move again and just want their money back till this goes away.”
“Clients think we don’t know what’s going on. They are right!”
“So many companies are still not refunding and this gives the industry a bad name.”
Some of the 14% who said confidence is quite high told us:
“There is so much pent up demand, that there would have to be a nuclear holocaust to stop the British public travelling!”
“There is appetite out there to travel and customers are more likely to use agents now, so they don’t get stuck like so many travellers last year.”
“The public appear to trust agents.”
There has been some talk of vaccine passports, or unvaccinated people not being allowed to travel. We asked how clients felt about the possibility of destinations banning visitors who’ve not been vaccinated.
The past year has been tough for the travel industry, so we asked members to sum up the situation.
Half said they are worried about the future, but sticking with travel; more than two in 10 are combining travel with another job to bring in extra money. Despite the ups and downs, almost a quarter are confident about their future. The remainder of responses were split evenly between those desperate to get back into the industry or those looking to get out.
How are agents diversifying?
Four in 10 agents told us they’d ‘pivoted’, or changed focus, as a result of the pandemic.
“We do less dynamic packaging and more packages, due to the uncertainty of travel,” one agent said.
“I’m trying to more diverse,” said another. “I’m promoting more UK for 2021 and more luxury, long-haul for 2022.”
Others aren’t actively selling 2021. Comments include:
“My focus is very much on 2022. I’m promoting late 2021 but only certain Islands.”
“I’ve got a second job and I actively refused to book trips departing prior to September 2021.”
“I’ve actively not taken any bookings for 2021 as it is too difficult to make solid plans and business projections due to worldwide uncertainty and no realistic vaccination programme universally.”
“I haven’t been actively selling because of the uncertainty and the fact that every time a holiday is cancelled, I lose money on card fees as well as time, for which I don’t receive a penny income. I have only been booking existing clients who have come to me. I have also promoted more UK than ever before.”
“With much more admin and changes, I’ve decided not to take bookings departing next three months until rules are clearer.”
Next year’s prices
Looking ahead to summer 2022, almost one in three agents (31%) say clients are choosing to upgrade next year’s holiday, while 59% say clients are spending more, but only because prices have risen. The remaining 9% say their clients have less money to spend.
The survey was carried out among 320 Travel Gossip members, between 13-17 April 2021.
See other articles based on the survey results: