Once the industry returns to a normal pace, customers will enjoy unimaginable service, says Not Just Travel’s Steve Witt

There is no doubt that the travel industry has been hit hard by the global pandemic, with several operators falling by the wayside.

In 2020, almost overnight, international travel halted and – even after a year – customers are still left confused and frustrated by mixed messages coming from the government.

But the travel industry is the best in the world for comebacks. We’ve seen through crises such as the demises of Thomas Cook and Monarch, global recessions, 9/11, Ebola, volcanic ash clouds and more.

As an industry, we adapt and evolve. Once travel resumes to a more normal pace, customers will enjoy benefits that were previously unimaginable.

The impact of covid means customers can now enjoy far more flexible terms on their bookings.

Increased flexibility

Prior to the pandemic, as a customer you would book a holiday and everything would be set in stone.

If you had to change any details of the bookings, such as flights or resort changes, you either couldn’t or were hit with hefty charges.

Now, when you look to book a holiday your travel agent can shop around for the most flexible terms.

Suppliers are open minded when it comes to booking and so are customers. The relationship has changed and is more balanced towards the customer. It really is Travel 2.0.

The ‘milestone holiday’

The current holiday trend is that people are now booking what we’re calling ‘the milestone holiday’.

These aren’t once-in-a-lifetime trips, but significant holidays to celebrate the things we’ve gone without and people are ready to spend far more.

It could be a more indulgent short-haul trip with friends, or a long-haul experience as a family with no expense spared. That’s why our average holiday booking values have risen from £2,800 per booking back in 2019 to £4,356 per booking now.

The trust factor

Relationship-based business means higher sales.

Suppliers have consistently told me that Not Just Travel’s booking values and sales are beating those of our nearest competitors.

I’d put this down to our unusual business model, which is based on independent homeworking travel consultants who very often sell to, or are recommended by, their friends and families.

With a lot of bad press about travel suppliers in terms of issuing refunds, people look to book with people they trust.

If your best friend, or your sister, is a travel consultant, why would you ever book with anyone else?

Our business is based on relationships and, in a crisis, relationships are the most valuable things we have.

Expansion plans

As a result of what I recently called the ‘travel gold rush’ we are expecting as consumer confidence returns, Not Just Travel has announced bold plans to double in size over the next twelve months.

March was a record month for the company both in terms of franchise sales as well as holiday bookings.

We’ve continued to maintain, invest and grow the business and our trade partners have been telling us how strong our holiday sales are.