Travel agents are being inundated with holidaymakers asking advice on holidays they have booked elsewhere or online.
Agents put the reason for the surge in queries from people who were not existing clients down to the complex and constantly changing rules as international travel started to open up for the summer.
Miles Morgan Travel said “substantial numbers” of people were contacting the agency’s high street shops for help on bookings not made by the company.
Chairman Miles Morgan (pictured) admitted it was an “interesting conundrum”, adding: “We have never seen anything like this before. On the one hand, it’s positive that people see us as a safe pair of hands, but on the other hand, they didn’t think to book with us, we have our existing customers to look after and still have staff on furlough. You can’t put more staff on [to work] to look after other people’s customers.”
Morgan said the agency’s current policy was to help customers out “time permitting” while David Walker, owner of The Travel Snob, said he was handing out a pre-prepared factsheet to clients on what to do prior to travel and advising them to double-check with their own travel company.
Speaking on a Travel Weekly webcast, he said: “I am giving them information I have prepared for clients but my time is really for the clients that I have. If I give out misinformation I don’t want to be responsible. It’s important they contact the company they booked with.”
Sutton Travel managing director Andy Tomlinson, also on the webcast, said his agency had also been contacted by increasing numbers of people who had booked elsewhere. He said he was prioritising existing clients.
He said: “In the last couple of weeks people have been wanting advice. I have taken their number and called them back at the end of the day to get the message across that if you want this advice more instantly then you have to book with us.”
Morgan admitted the situation was ironic given agents’ attempts to convince the public about the importance of booking through the trade.
He added: “I have spent 16 years trying to explain the value of booking with a travel agent and a person face to face. In 16 months, Covid has done that.”