With the red list now all but gone, it finally feels like we can be proper travel agents again, says The Travel Snob’s David Walker, a Not Just Travel homeworker.
And the winner is… well, it wasn’t me, but congratulations to all the winners and those who made the shortlists for travel industry awards like Travel Weekly’s Agent Achievement Awards over the last few weeks.
It’s certainly been a few weeks of dusting down your tux and making sure you don’t spill drinks (impossible for me) as there’s not enough time to get dry cleaning done before the next event.
“Attending awards dos again has made me realise the industry is getting back to a certain degree of normality, and reminds me what a crazy bunch we in travel are.”
Attending awards dos again has made me realise the industry is getting back to a certain degree of normality, and reminds me what a crazy bunch we in travel are. Seeing people we’d not seen in years, it was either a hug, elbow bang or licking each other’s faces. Then, just like before Covid, propping up the bar and having a laugh, joke and a few beverages.
Business development managers are back on the road making appointments and delivering incentives and offers (hint: a desk calendar wouldn’t go a miss); the word furlough has disappeared from auto-reply emails; call centres are closer to being fully staffed; and there’s even talk of fam trips looming.
We are starting to fly long-haul again now. I’m preparing to go to Dubai, in business class, and can’t wait to ‘travel properly’ once more. I’m not sure what I’m looking forward to most, being back in Dubai or the journey itself? Bring on the fizz.
With the red list being whittled down to only a few countries, consumer confidence seems to be on the up. A few months ago, clients asked ‘where can we go?’ and we could give them one or two options; now, we can reply with ‘where do you want to go?’ We can finally work like travel agents again, doing the research and giving options out.
“I’m not sure what I’m looking forward to most, being back in Dubai or the journey itself? Bring on the fizz.”
Of course, there are still questions around forms and testing, and plenty to check before they depart, but it’s easier now. I’ve had more than 140 bookings depart since July 1 and I’m sure, like many others, I can hand-on-heart say I have not had the dreaded call from a client stuck at the airport with the wrong documents.
There’s plenty more happening in the world right now too, so the newspapers have stopped banging on about the perils of travel – no more interviews with Mr X who booked on the internet and had no one to talk to when they got themselves into trouble, or Mrs Y who was denied boarding as they thought having a little piece of card was sufficient to say they had been double-vaxxed. It’s all calming down.
Bookings have always been coming in for me, albeit slower than usual in the height of the pandemic. But now there are more last-minute bookings with people wanting to travel in the next few weeks.
“It’s fabulous taking a nice big booking for 2023, but man do we have to wait for commission on it.”
While availability is scarce for bigger families wanting to go away at October half-term, I see the uptick in last-minute enquiries as instant commissions and money in the bank. It’s fabulous taking a nice big booking for 2023, but man do we have to wait for commission on it.
It’s good to have a much bigger choice of where we can send our clients – and better still to book for travel in a month’s time and seeing cash in the bank. I think we’re back!
The masks are slipping
I truly believe it is as important to build relationships with suppliers as it is with our customers. I was lucky enough to be a guest of Virgin Atlantic’s at the recent Attitude Awards held at the Roundhouse in Camden, London. It was an absolutely top night and an event I now want to attend annually, so a massive thank you to everyone at Virgin for their incredible generosity and hospitality. The next day, feeling a little the worse for wear, I caught a train home. As it sped through countryside, I noticed no one was wearing a mask. Whether they were supposed to or not, it was another sign that things are returning to normal.