Travel Agents’ Crucial Role in Post-Pandemic Travel

Photo: woman smiling in beach chair, she used a travel agent

Travel agents are experts in planning vacations; it’s what they do. They are well-informed and receive ongoing training and education in all manner of leisure holidays. Whether it’s a land-based vacation package in Mexico, a Caribbean cruise, or a niche offering from a consumer’s bucket list, travel consultants bring years of experience to the task. With a broad collection of expertise, extensive networks and many years of experience, the value that travel agents bring to consumers under normal business circumstances is pronounced. In the post-pandemic environment, this importance is amplified significantly. Helping consumers get their arms around the assortment of rules, regulations, flight availability, border openings, and hotel and cruise line readiness will be essential to the rebound of the travel industry. Here are just a few of the reasons why.

Agents Know Where To Find Answers

As economies around the world begin to lift restrictions and allow international visitors again, travel agents can help customers navigate what is happening and where. This is critical as we come out of the first pandemic wave because an open border does not necessarily equate to an open hotel.  Even if a hotel property is open, it’s difficult to know whether the amenities the resort was originally chosen for – like the pool, the activities, the entertainment – will be available yet. And if they are available, will they be different than what customers expect or want?  Travel agents know exactly where to go and who to contact to find out this information. They can offer guidance towards alternative properties or destinations and walk customers through complementary options. Working with a professional travel consultant allows consumers to be well-armed with crucial information making for well-educated and confident decisions in a rapidly changing, post-COVID environment.

Agents Save Time

Things are changing rapidly. Businesses are opening in a staggered, unbalanced way across the country and around the world. Keeping track of what’s open or closed is a herculean task made more difficult once travel distance is factored in. It is a lot more challenging to gain a true sense of how open an economy is from far away, yet this is what folks considering travel are being asked to do as we reach the end of the first wave of the pandemic.  It’s no small feat for consumers to gather and interpret this knowledge, made more challenging for those whose primary focus is still very much on taking care of their families and maintaining their jobs.Working with a travel agent and tapping into their vast knowledge base is a huge time saver for consumers. No longer is it necessary to do the research independently nor have to trust that the information obtained is trustworthy. Travel consultants spend years absorbing product information and attending training sessions. They learn about destinations, city codes, terms and conditions, rules and regulations. Travel professionals have multiple sources from which to gather reliable data quickly, leveraging extensive networks built over many years. The time saved by utilizing these resources is invaluable.

It’s a Stress Buster

The past few months have been filled with stress and anxiety for everyone. Those who are furloughed or have lost their jobs are worried about what’s next, while those still employed are under enormous pressure as they perform the tasks of those no longer in the company. No one knows how the economy will ultimately fare, and with ambiguity comes anxiety. Planning a much-needed vacation under these conditions is both necessary and difficult for consumers.

A travel professional’s assistance can do much to relieve stress in this environment. With years of acquired knowledge and expertise, they can confidently recommend options that fit today’s budget and unpredictable landscape. 

Not sure whether a favourite resort in Cancun is open yet? No problem, travel agents know who to ask. Wondering if flights are available for Barcelona in June? Talk to a travel professional. If they don’t know the answer right away, they know exactly where to source the information. Helping customers feel confident in making vacation decisions in a landscape of changing variables is sure to bring much-needed peace of mind for customers looking to get away.

The Economics Make Sense

Along with vast networks and years of acquired knowledge, travel professionals know how to find the best value. They can see through supplier promotions and direct consumers towards meaningful investments, steering clear of those that have only an appearance of value. Travel agents can help to evaluate novel package offerings to ensure that each and every component is valuable and meaningful to their client.  Crucially, they can ensure that future travel credits are utilized to the fullest, helping customers navigate the terms and conditions that come with them.

In a post-COVID environment, travel agents’ ability to help navigate a clear path to value will be indispensable to consumers. As countries like Japan introduce innovations like subsidies for tourists, travel professionals can help to evaluate these offers and assess their true worth. Special fares designed to get consumers traveling again can be assessed and weighed by travel professionals to ensure the benefits fit the customer. 

Travel agents provide a different type of essential service to customers. Their knowledge and experience can help bring guidance and support at a time when travel regulations are at their most confusing. Families who have had to forgo spring vacations during the pandemic and are facing the prospect of losing summer getaways are eager to make up for lost time in the coming months.As the industry ramps up to accommodate the pent-up demand from many missed holiday opportunities, travel agents offer a beacon of light for customers when it is needed the most. 

About the Author: Dana Gain is a global sales and marketing executive, speaker, and business leader with a 25-year career in the cruise and hospitality industries. Her expertise extends from contract negotiation with international retail groups to sales, marketing and operations strategy. Dana holds her MBA in International Business from Walden University and a Bachelor of Arts from the University of British Columbia, and remains the only cruise line professional in the world to have achieved an Elite Cruise Counsellor Scholar (ECCS) accreditation with Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA). Dana lives and works in Toronto, Canada.