DIY holiday bookers who have been “kicking off” throughout the Covid-19 crisis should have a better understanding of the travel trade after the pandemic, agents say.
Speaking on a Travel Weekly webcast, The Travel Snob’s David Walker admitted to being “a bit of a stalker” on Facebook groups where people share tips on DIY bookings.
“I joined recently to see the reaction of the public and what they’re going through, and it’s really interesting the amount of people who have booked their flight over here, their hotel over there and another flight back from somewhere else. And they’re all kicking off.
“I do think people will sit back and think ‘I am going to go to an agent’. Those who get through this period, will thrive.”
He added that “very healthy forward bookings” based on many rebookings of cancelled holidays is “what’s keeping me going” and “makes me know that all will be ok”.
Kate Harris, of Inspired Travel, said the aftermath of angry customers will go the other way too, and said she was happy to refuse to book for those who haven’t understood the industry’s situation during the crisis and been rude or pushy.
She has a blacklist for customers who the agency will “never book again” and noted the way a customer “kicked off” about the company holding onto the credit card fees so it didn’t make a loss on the cancelled booking.
“They haven’t been understanding about the time it’s taken us to get refunds,” she said.
Haslemere Travel owner Gemma Antrobus said: “I hope that in not too long a time we’ll have more conversations where we look back on this period of time and the lessons that we’ve learned and we’ll all be thriving.”
She said she was “super positive about the future”, adding: “The one thing that’s so amazing about travel is how much it enriches our clients, their children, even our older generation. Travel brings so much joy to people.”
Antrobus noted people in general were “desperate to get away” and the “appetite is there”. She said: “Once we just have a little more stability on where people can go and it last a bit longer than the rug being pulled at the last minute [in terms of travel restrictions imposed on Spain], the clients will come back. Those that have DIY-d it will start to look at agents.
“The message that has come out from the travel industry through this pandemic has been so strong,” she said, pointing out that while the wider circumstances are bad the situation has allowed travel agents to appear on mainstream media “more than ever before”.
“It’s so positive to get our faces out there, showing that a proper travel agent – someone you can call, who will answer the phone, who will help you, who cares – is a really positive thing to have,” she added.
“I’m super optimistic for the future, we just have a little bit more to navigate before we get there. Those of us that get through it will be ever stronger.”
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