The trade's safety advice underpins the nation's reputation for resilience, says Andy Stark, managing director of The Global Travel Group
The summer months are traditionally a little quiet in the travel industry.
Most of us are either blanketing social media with smug boasts about how great our hols are or moaning amusingly about what a terrible time we are having. Two weeks with the in-laws and a flight with children is enough to tip most people over the edge.
However, it’s fair to say that this year the industry has been kept on its toes with, at times, deeply saddening events. Destinations such as Athens, Calais, Tunisia and, most recently, Bangkok were making the headlines for all the wrong reasons.
While tragic for all of those involved, for our customers the confusion that follows in the wake of these events reinforces the importance of an agent’s role and the assurance and clarity that we need to provide.
Cancelling the annual family holiday or changing the location isn’t an easy decision to make, but it’s one where expert advice can really make a difference.
We all know the risks involved with booking packages versus DIY breaks, but for many the process can still be a bit of a minefield.
For those turning to the internet, the sheer amount of information and real‑time updates from Google and social media can induce panic in even the hardiest among us.
Anyone who has ever used a search engine to package up a holiday will know the anxiety that sets in immediately after confirming the booking.
Despite spending hours upon hours researching, you are never entirely sure you have the best deal and have all parts of the trip pinned down correctly.
Throw in uncertainty over the safety of destinations, protection if things go wrong and conflicting travel advice, and it is no wonder that your average holidaymaker is likely to be a little baffled.
While agents are often provided with guidance from operators and official advice from the government, what they can do above and beyond this is provide advice and reassurance to customers.
The consensus among many Global Travel Group agents seems to be that holidaymakers just want to discuss their options and, importantly, the specific requirements for their family and their holiday.
Bottom line, they want to know that whatever option they choose – be it rebook or go ahead as planned – they are doing so with confidence.
As the peak holiday period draws to a close and the already buoyant lates market continues, we need to be one step ahead providing practical advice, reassurance and alternatives.
Brits are some of the hardiest when it comes to travel and not responding to fear.
We are the nation that carries on travelling and supports economies when they really need it in terms of spending our holiday pound. Just look at the phenomenal support from the travel industry to Greece over recent months.
This is no real surprise to me. It is because we have the best and most experienced experts in the world when it comes to our travel agents.
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