Before the pandemic, it was much easier to say absolute things.
Take, for example, this excerpt from an article I wrote in January 2019: “Travel agency executives shut down good 2018 reports and look forward to another 12 months of prosperity.” Simple. To the point.
Recently, I wanted to write this sentence: The travel agency business is booming.
While my glasses are probably a bit rosy when I think about pre-Covid times, I think it’s fair to say that “business is booming” is too black and white for today.
All indications indicate that this applies to most agencies. But at what cost to travel consultants, their stress levels and their mental health?
Travel Experts, a Raleigh, NC-based luxury hosting agency, recently discovered that 2022 could be the most profitable year for many of its consultants.
Several branches have reported that 2022 will be their busiest year on the books. Europe is proving to be a popular destination and there are also big, explosive trips on the menu. Family travel and multi-generational travel are on the rise.
But problems arose: lack of space, high prices, poor service levels, Covid-related restrictions, and much more.
Sharon Fake, COO of Travel Experts, said consultants who have stayed the course for the past two-plus years and kept in touch with clients have been rewarded with “tremendous growth” in their business.
In fact, the host agency has noticed a new trend, Fake said. On the internal blog, consultants post ads like this: “I’m exhausted. I have some people who only book five star hotels, both, and I just can’t give them the attention they have. Can anyone help?”
Many consultants are used to refusing a booking if the client is not suitable. But it’s not exactly the cabins, the discounted spring break cruisers that ring.
“It’s a difficult choice,” Fake said. “It’s one of the stresses right now. How do they maintain their reputation for focusing on the highest quality work, and yet not being too scattered, even with help? It’s definitely a situation where people are working much longer and the expectations are also much higher, probably than ever.”
Agents are stressed out for all of the aforementioned reasons, she says, but their love of the cause keeps them going.
New entrants with diverse backgrounds are also entering the industry; According to Fake, the resumes recently seen by Travel Experts are impressive. And with so much business, they see success.
It seems that this period of uncertainty, when business is booming but there may be more downturns, will be with us for some time. It is also unclear how long the period of increased demand will last.
Nothing is black and white anymore. But if we have to live in a gray zone, then at least the phone rings.