Gemma Antrobus says the TV presenter’s backing of agents will help the public appreciate the role

If you are reading this, the chances are you work in travel or a company associated with travel and you do so because you love this industry and the wonderful opportunities that it brings.

Someone once said to me that you’ll never become a millionaire by working in travel (with a few exceptions) but every once in a while you’ll get to live like one – and that is one of the reasons that many travel industry employees are so attracted to the sector and never wish to leave.

MoreEamonn Holmes: ‘Travel agents are amazing professionals’

As a travel agent, it takes years of frontline sales, hundreds of hours of training and a great many overseas educational visits to have the knowledge to personally recommend and plan the perfect holiday for clients and ensure they are completely looked after, from the time they enquire until they reach home (and beyond).

So why have we been treated with such contempt for so many years?

Yes, many of us have very loyal clients who wouldn’t dream about not using us for their travel. They understand that we are the experts and that they are not. They appreciate the time and stress we save them and that, should anything go wrong, we will there to help them navigate the situation.

But there are also those who just think that they know better or that we are out to dupe them. They believe that their £20 saving online affords them exactly the same experience and service that they receive from a real agent – all of us in the trade know it doesn’t.

Travel champion

What is most upsetting is there hasn’t been anyone from outside of the travel sector who has championed our industry publicly . . . until recently.

Step forward, Eamonn Holmes. If you haven’t seen Eamonn’s piece on This Morning, followed by his webcast interview with Travel Weekly editor Lucy Huxley, then watch them now! As far as I’m concerned, the man deserves a travel knighthood.

Putting it very clearly, Eamonn questioned why the travelling public wouldn’t want to use a travel agent for their holiday. And he said that while the high street agent had once been regarded as a thing of the past, he now considered them very much “the future”.

Massive boost

This was not only an exceptionally positive message to put out into the public domain but also gave a massive boost to all of us who have worked day and night since the pandemic started. We needed some love, and Eamonn certainly showed us that.

And he is right – there is a future for our industry. Although it will look slightly different than it did in February 2020, it is nonetheless a future.

The key players in its revival and continued growth are agents, in all their forms – high street, office-based or homeworking. We are all absolutely essential, and the quicker that the travelling public realises this, the sooner they will experience what it is like to have a holiday planned bespoke to their requirements by a professional. As we all know, that is quite different to a bargain break booked through a search engine.

Thank you, Eamonn!

MoreEamonn Holmes: ‘Travel agents are amazing professionals’