Travel Counsellors Andy La Gette

Travel Counsellors' Andy La Gette on why customers need the travel trade

Andy La Gette on how the pandemic has shown that the travel trade is here to stay. 

One of the unexpected outcomes for the travel industry is that our experience of Covid seems to have actually “un-taught” all things. 

Think back to what the world looked like in March 2020 – our industry was bursting with expert travel arrangers jostling for business in a hectic marketplace, trying to appeal to an audience of leisure and corporate travellers who had been developing their own “DIY” travel-arranging capabilities. Our future as travel agents was threatened by the development of flight and hotel booking engines. We desperately needed a saviour to prevent self-service travel booking inching us towards extinction. 

Has Covid been our saviour? That’s clearly a farfetched concept. The wounds suffered by our beloved industry are undoubtedly deeper and longer lasting than most. But, as we emerge from the pandemic, consider this – since I’ve had live bookings again, I’ve been apprehensive every time a customer takes off. I’ve had restless nights worrying about whether clients got their Greek PLF approvals, or PCR test results in time. Are their passports still valid? Should they quarantine in resort? What do they need to do to get home? 

So, is there a silver lining? Well, while understanding how challenging this all is for us – the travel professionals – and the devastating impact the pandemic has obviously had on so many lives, we are also witnessing a strange phenomenon among those previously confident frequent travellers who had grown out of travel agents. Erstwhile, jetsetters are now calling up for help and guidance “just to be sure” and lo and behold, as the floodwaters of Covid recede, the relevance and value of the trusted travel advisors is being revealed for all to see. 

I will never be grateful for the pandemic. However, it has fundamentally altered customer priority from “value” to “peace of mind”, and that is our silver lining. I am certain that the bounce-back for travel agents will be supercharged by a rebooted market that has lost its appetite to self-serve.


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