Cruise specialist agents are avoiding selling dynamic packages and sticking to trusted tour operators to meet consumer demand for financially protected holidays.
Three newly-established agents, speaking on a Travel Weekly webcast, said financial protection was one of the key concerns for clients currently booking holidays, and was encouraging clients to book through travel agents.
Darryl Gardner, personal travel consultant for Cartwright Travel, said: “Every customer wants to know their money is protected. This is probably the best time from an agent point of view to work with an operator.
“Most operators have Covid cover and flexible [policies]. Where it used to be admin fees galore, a lot of them have eradicated them or reduced them, making it so much easier. You have to take your hat off to operators for having adapted so quickly.”
He added that demand for cruise remained strong with clients, despite the uncertainty about when cruises can restart.
Graham Bishop, owner Go Cruise & Travel With Graham, said booking with established, trusted tour operator brands also gave clients confidence when booking at such an uncertain time.
He said: “It gives them reassurance. Personally, there is no need to dynamically package holidays at the moment when there are so many great operators.
“I am holding off dynamic packages; I think it would be a tad foolish for this year. There are suppliers that have supported me and I will gravitate to them.”
Bishop, who hopes to open a retail premises in the next two years, said the pandemic had served to highlight the benefits of booking with a travel agent. “They ask me for financial protected holidays,” he added.
Joanna Guest, head of cruise at Bordessa Holidays, said the agency was now promoting the fact cruises were financially protected as one of its “key messages”.
She added: “Our business is run is online. We run a lot of our business via the website, mainly Facebook. So a big thing for us was how do we get that message across about the protection that you get when you’re not necessarily having the face to face contact [with clients]
“So we’ve looked at how we’ve done that and made sure that the key messages are going out, around the fact that you book a package with us.”