Julia Lo Bue-Said leads the trade into 2024
The travel titan and CEO of the Advantage Travel Partnership reminded agents that they 'cannot be complacent', despite the travel bubble showing no signs of bursting.
Speaking exclusively to Travel Bulletin in the final issue of the year, Julia celebrated the success of the travel industry's recovery this year.
"The sentiment this year, without question, has been a mixture. From a trading point of view, it's been buoyant: we have been pleased to see our members have a really strong trading performance right across the different sectors we operate in. That is really showing the industry at its best and showing how resilient travel is.
"For the whole industry, there are still challenges that we have had to work through, from flight changes and cancellations to baggage delays and strikes."
Julia's role is largely founded upon helping the trade navigate some of those external pressures in what can feel like a tumultuous industry at times.
"We work really closely with our airline partners and have relationships with a range of government departments, all in service of making sure our members can operate in an environment that is without the burden and ensuring stakeholders are cognisant of the bigger challenges our agents are having to face.
"Our job is to help guide business owners, give them the opportunity to help them offload their challenges, and be the guiding counsel to help our members and steer them in the right direction."
Many agents have found themselves as benefactors of travel's 'relationship renaissance', and are proud to put their name above their shops as a face of the trade and a point of contact for clients. Julia emphasised that this leaves the trade in good stead moving forward.
"For most agents, that's one thing they're very passionate about and one of the main things they are in business for. Whether that is in their local market or digitally, their brand and what they stand for is exceptionally important – that comes down to human connection.”
So with travel already in good stead to ride the wave, what does 2024 have in store?
"For the time being, from a trading point of view, momentum has started strong and we’re seeing great traction for 2024.
"We are not seeing any indication that that is going to stop, however – like in any aspect of travel – we cannot be complacent."