Testing times gives agents another way to shine…

Andy Stark, managing director of the Global Travel Group, on the neverending story for the travel industry that is Brexit

What is it about us Brits that makes us revel in misfortune?

People falling over or suffering some sort of misery has been a mainstay of comedians and satirists for hundreds of years. I’m guessing it has something to do with what we have been through as a country. Plague, pestilence, invasion, war and corruption – yep, we’ve seen it all. And if you can’t laugh, well…

Which brings me on to Brexit. Sorry, I know, it really is tiresome. And again, I’ve got to be that person who caveats everything here with the statement: “and who knows if this will come true because I wrote it a week ago and things might have changed since then.” Anyway, when it comes to Brexit. I guess the point is that I wonder what we’ll be saying about it in ten or 20 years’ time?

The situation we find ourselves in now seems to be a slightly strange plot to test if the country still has its Dunkirk spirit – in part by threatening us all with food shortages and the possibility that the UK will be out of basic materials by the middle of April. Will we eventually be laughing about all this fuss in the future or will it be too painful to make jokes about?

Like everyone else (including our esteemed MPs), I actually have no clue about what might happen after March 29. And as travel agents up and down the country will tell you, the general public are desperate for someone – anyone – to give them some clarity.

Global Travel Group’s retailers have been telling me of the daily challenges of trying to sell holidays to consumers with genuine concerns about their financial wellbeing. In those cases, human nature kicks in and – counter-intuitively – you’d perhaps want to advise people to wait before booking.

On the other hand, agents are well placed to offer the latest travel and holiday advice. Having expert help for your big holiday purchase is always reassuring, and that hand holding is being amplified now.

While we are all in the dark about the most obvious question – will holiday prices go up after Brexit? –we can help with queries about everything else, be it passport rules, visas, flights, international driving permits and myriad other things.

As an industry we are used to change and adapting pretty swiftly when new legislation and guidelines are often thrown at us with very little room for practical planning – Package Travel Regulations (PTRs), I am looking at you...

Building relationships and trusted service has always been essential and Brexit, perversely, gives our business another way to shine while delivering these services. Who knows, agents might have the last laugh.

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