Travelpack update from Vishal Patel

Travelpack update
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Members of Travel Gossip’s Facebook group will be familiar with Vishal Patel, Travelpack’s ever-available Sales and Marketing Director as he’s an active member of the forum. We talked to him about how the tailormade specialist is coping with the pandemic and what the future holds.

How are Travelpack bookings holding up?

Surprisingly good!  At the start of the pandemic I was very nervous about what would happen – but we worked through it and now sales are looking strong. In fact, they’re back to pre-Covid levels.

Travelpack updates
What’s selling well?

We are receiving lots of bookings for the Maldives and the Middle East, for October 2021 and beyond. A few people are booking for this summer, but generally people are looking further ahead.

US sales are strong and Canada is picking up again.

Overall, booking patterns are good and picking up across the board.

Travelpack update
You’re still waiting for refunds from some airlines for cancelled flights, are you continuing to book with them?

Once this is all over, we will be reassessing our relationship with some airlines, but everyone is up against it now so that’s something we’ll look at in the future.

For the time being, we’re trying to only book flexible fares and we do have flexibility on 90% of what we sell, but some customers want the cheapest flights and they’re still willing to take the risk of booking a non-refundable ticket. We’re being totally open and honest with them, explaining the pitfalls and if they’re not 100% comfortable we won’t book it, but we’re not turning away business.

Are staycations a big part of your business this year?

There’s been massive demand for UK holidays this year, but it’s difficult because suppliers are reluctant to work with tour operators and prices have gone through the roof. We haven’t sold as much in the UK as we would have liked, but hopefully we will have more to sell next year.

You often engage with travel agents on Travel Gossip’s Facebook group, how important are they to Travelpack?

They are critical – without them I don’t have a business, which is why I’ll always keep their well-being in mind.

I am eternally grateful for our agent partners’ patience during the pandemic.

We have always tried to refund customers as quick as possible but sometimes, due to the sheer volume of cancellations, we have made mistakes. Also, we needed to put a new system in place for refunds because of all the different policies we had to deal with, so at the beginning it was taking us six to eight weeks to refund. Our aim is to bring this down to within a month or three weeks, although we are at the mercy of airlines for some packages.

Why should travel agents book with Travelpack?

Five years ago, they were like “who are you?” but now they know we can deliver. It’s not just about the product, the service we provide is equally important.

We have an out-of-hours service, I always have my mobile on and I will always respond at any given hour. Sometimes my kids might be shouting “daddy” in the background, but people have got used to that!

We might not offer the cheapest price but we have a tenacious team I’m incredibly proud of, who will work with agents to get the customer what they want, our product range is huge and we’re not restricted, we will source client specific product too.

We provide a good after-sales service, which we’re constantly striving to improve.

We have been keeping in touch with agents throughout the pandemic, doing webinars and online training, and we have more plans for the new few months. Watch this space!

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