Travel agents should encourage consumers to book now before an inevitable surge in prices once travel gets the “green light” to restart.

That was the message from Miles Morgan Travel chairman Miles Morgan, speaking on a panel discussion at the WTM Virtual 2020 conference.

He said: “As soon as we get the green light, demand will go up and that will put prices up. It’s the way it works with supply and demand.

“A lot of our focus [as an agency] is to get clients to book it now at a fantastic price. Prices are amazing at the moment and the flexibility operators are offering is sensational.”

With reference to this week’s news of an effective vaccine against Covid-19 and hopes of a return to normal trading by next spring, Morgan said there was a “whole sales piece” to do to educate consumers of the benefits of booking now. Agents will reap the benefits as consumers realise the savings they have made, he said.

He added: “There is an awful lot of customers will take advantage [of the good prices] and the ones that do that are going to look at the price of that holiday in January and say ‘what a great deal I’ve got, you [the travel agent] have saved me £500 on my family holiday’.”

When asked whether Tui UK would be putting prices up, commercial and business development director Richard Sofer said prices were key but stressed tour operators had to be competitive.

He said: “The benefit of the UK industry is that it’s hugely competitive. Prices are key; we need to make sure prices are competitive. We will make sure we have great deals.”

Sofer said there had been a shift from price-sensitivity to more sensitivity among consumers around the flexibility operators offer, for example to amend their trip at the last minute, as a result of the pandemic.

“If something changes they want that flexibility option; this is increasingly important,” he said.