Even though demand for holidays is massive, people keep on coming back to travel agents instead of just booking online
Right now, bookings are so high that it would take Not Just Travel franchisee, Andy Richardson, three days to book all his clients onto their flights. He shares his top four reasons travel agents are back in fashion and why business is booming.
1. Reassurance: Customers know there is always help
If something does go wrong with your flight or holiday, trying to sort things out can be incredibly stressful as well as time-consuming. And some people do not realise their holiday might not be protected based on how they have booked it.
“Since the pandemic, people have become wary about booking via the internet where no one is at the other end of the phone if things go wrong,” says Andy. “We’ve just helped a customer after their flight from Luton was cancelled at 4.00 am on a Sunday morning, rebooking them on a flight departing just a couple of hours later from Heathrow.
“We also contacted a couple, backpacking in the middle of Asia, to tell them they had to get home fast or be stuck abroad when the pandemic hit and flew another couple home via Qatar when Brits weren’t allowed to travel through Dubai.”
2. Trust: Personal travel agents take care of everything
It’s nice to know that someone cares. Even simple things like checking clients onto flights and calling to know if they have had a good trip or how it could have been better. Some consultants also like sending personalised gifts. And Andy says he quickly steps in to fix problems when the client is abroad.
“We tell our clients to WhatsApp us if there is an issue abroad rather than just be disgruntled,” he explains. “For example, if the room isn’t satisfactory, we’ll contact the hotel manager and request another room for them. We’ll make sure that the client likes the new room and that they have help moving into it.”
3. Knowledge: Travel agents offer time, insight and expertise
Some people love researching their holidays for hours or days. But most people simply don’t have the knowledge, experience or contacts to get the absolute best holiday experience for them. Let alone the best deals that the public never sees.
“We had someone who wanted to book a walking holiday in Croatia for their dad,” says Andy. “They had spent hours trying to find something whereas it took me five minutes to give them a number of choices because I immediately had a good idea of reputable suppliers.
“We build fantastic relationships with operators who are happy to pick up the phone and jump online to confirm a booking even after office hours because they know that we have clients ready to book.”
4. Value: Knowing what holidays offer value for money
Travel agents are paid by the holiday supplier, not the customer. That means they don’t charge extra for their services. And because good travel agents have large buying power, people can normally book holidays at the same price or less than they can find elsewhere. Travel agents are also able to save clients money because they see in real-time what’s happening in the market and which destinations or options represent a great deal.
Andy adds: “As we are full-time consultants, we know which destinations and holidays offer good value for money. For example, we are seeing huge demand for cruising with some great offers on new ships, while Mauritius can offer better value for money than the Med, even at the luxury end.
“We just recently found a 14-night luxury Mauritius holiday for a client for the same price as 10 nights in Croatia. Bargain!”