Direct bookers ‘turning to agents for advice’

Customers who have traditionally booked direct are turning to travel agents for assistance with future holiday plans and help processing operator refunds, according to a leading agent.

Speaking on a Travel Weekly webcast, Tony Mann, director of Idle Travel in Bradford, said he and his team were working hard to keep abreast of entry requirements for different destinations, but added that the added complexity was working to his advantage.

“We’re trying to keep up to date with the information and the apps that they need for each destination, but actually, that’s helped us because it is a minefield for people,” he said.

“We’re seeing people who would normally book direct are actually coming into us because they’re asking us questions. So we know that it’s become a bit of a minefield for them and they need our help.”

He added: “We’re getting quite a lot of new customers, which is really satisfying. People who’ve had their refunds back from different companies, where they finding it hard online either to contact people or to find the correct advice, which always makes me chuckle. So that’s actually played into our hands really.”

Mann said independent agents should see a return to the high street as “an opportunity”.

“We’re in a shopping mall, and our queue was even bigger than the Card Factory’s this week. So it’s kind of played into our hands a lot.

“We play to our strengths and hopefully react quickly marketing-wise. That’s our independent strength.

“It’s actually an opportunity, and we’ve got help there where we need it, whether it’s the Jet2holidays trade website, or Advantage, or yourselves – the trade press has been a lifeline to us. I’m reading them every second to see what is happening and what each country is saying.

“We need more information, and it’s knowing where to look – but that is playing into our hands.”

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