It feels like our industry is finally turning a corner but there are still challenges to come, says Spear Travel’s Kim Kent.
Battered and bruised but alive. That’s how I feel as we come out the other side of this terrible pandemic.
Who would have thought that now, in September 2021, things are still not back to normal?
Following a very successful vaccination rollout over the past year, the travel industry is at long last celebrating some good news with the recent government relaxation of travel restrictions and opening up of more countries. It can’t come soon enough for me.
“We are now open full time and the shop is busy with late bookings and many other enquiries. It almost feels normal again.”
As furlough comes to an end, my focus is to rebuild my business and do all I can to offer my customers the confidence to book again.
We are now open full time and the shop is busy with late bookings and many other enquiries. It almost feels normal again. Most customers are booking at once as availability for some destinations is limited.
I’m also expecting the recent news that the US is to reopen from early November to create more interest.
This is very encouraging and I feel quite excited about it. I know we have some way to go with long‑haul travel to the east but at least it’s moving in the right direction.
A good example is a recent booking for a Caribbean holiday for a couple who had never used a travel agent before.
They asked about Saint Lucia and, as I had been, I was able to offer lots of advice about the best hotels and resorts. The clients complimented me on the service they received and said they would never book online again.
“They asked about Saint Lucia and, as I had been, I was able to offer lots of advice about the best hotels and resorts.”
I hope this is the way forward as we have worked so hard for our customers over the past 18 months, moving their bookings, helping them with new dates and, in some cases, finding new holiday destinations.
The only trouble is we haven’t earned any money in the process.
I often wonder how many people who booked online had trouble getting a refund or just couldn’t be bothered to go through the often lengthy process required.
Over these past 18 months, we have unfortunately lost some very knowledgeable and valuable staff in our industry.
Some, due to the pressures of the pandemic, felt they couldn’t cope and resigned, which is very sad. I have heard many such stories and have witnessed the devastating effect it can have on people’s careers.
Many were dedicated people who had been in the industry for years and had a wealth of experience but decided on a complete career change.
I have to admit these have been very difficult times for us all, with the demands from customers and the ever-changing rules and regulations.
“It’s a big shock to the system to actually have to come back into work and pick up from where you left off, especially with all the changes.”
We also have to think about the staff who are coming back into work after so much time on furlough.
They have spent the past 18 months at home with their families.
It’s a big shock to the system to actually have to come back into work and pick up from where you left off, especially with all the changes. This is going to be hard for them and some retraining may be necessary.
Some will undoubtedly struggle with the pressure of work again while others will thrive at having their lives back!
Good to be back on fams again
It’s so refreshing to have been offered an educational again after so long. We actually have two to look forward to. We were thrilled to receive an invitation to join the new Silver Moon as it cruises the Greek islands. Following a lovely booking from a regular client, one of my colleagues was chosen to share this experience with Silversea Cruises. She has just returned and had the most amazing time, so thank you, Silversea. We have also been invited by Classic Collection Holidays to visit the fantastic island of Corfu for a few nights in October. This beautiful island really needs our support.