“We're not about to disappear”: the comeback of travel agencies

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“”We're not about to disappear””: the comeback of travel agencies

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Difficulties in traveling after the end of health restrictions give more weight to the human contact offered by travel agencies.

The avalanche of information at the end of the click and the long months of travel restrictions could have spelled the death of travel agencies. On the contrary, these tourism specialists say they are overwhelmed with requests.

The ridership is such that Amanda Amyotte took the leap last year: after 15 years of part-time travel planning, she went full-time. The avalanche of requests forced my hand.

In 2022, she organized 110 trips, more than double than in her best pre-pandemic years.

The Association of Canadian Travel Agencies (ACTA) hears the same story from all of its members, even though it has no supporting statistics. According to the president, Manon Martel, the sudden onset of the pandemic has helped her industry to come back into the public mind.

If we speak positively, the pandemic will have allowed the travel agency industry to recover in the sense that, at the beginning of the pandemic, people who did not deal with travel agencies found themselves at the water. They were caught on the other side of the world, it was a bit of a commotion at the airports, she says.

The months of travel restrictions were difficult for agencies, but the complicated recovery of tourism has valued their services, as Manon Martel explains.

Flight cancellations and stories of lost luggage have multiplied during peak periods such as summer and December 2022.

In any situation, [travellers] always have someone on the end of the line and not a machine or a chat. We know very well that when extraordinary situations like this arise, talking to a calm human.

“The after-sales service has always exist. [But] there, we are overwhelmed. »

—Manon Martel, Director of ACTA

The complexity of travel rules is also playing a role in this resurgence of agencies, according to Wayne Smith, professor at the Ted-Rogers School of Hospitality and Tourism Management, Toronto Metropolitan University.

Travel insurance is becoming increasingly important again and [a travel agent] can find the best coverage for you. […] If you lose your baggage, are you covered? If flights are canceled, how do you get home? All these questions are contributing to a strong comeback for travel agencies, he explains.

Amanda Amyotte mentions other factors. His agency, Vivid Travel, specializes in tailor-made and, therefore, more expensive trips, apart from all-inclusives.

People have realized during the pandemic that, s hey had a dream trip to take with their family, they couldn't wait any longer. In addition, people have been able to save their income, she believes.

Eric Slatter says paying travel planner Amanda Amyotte saves him time and gives him peace of mind.

Among her clients, she notices more and more families who are abandoning all-inclusives in favor of cultural trips to Europe and Asia.

Eric Slatter, who lives in Edmonton, asked her to organize a trip to Italy for his wife, their three daughters and him.

There is so much information available on Internet that it is quite a challenge to decipher them and decide on the best activity, he explains. For him, the time savings and peace of mind offered by a travel consultant are worth their weight in gold.

More and more Travel agencies charge fees for their services rather than depending on commissions. According to Wayne Smith, this further enhances the role of the travel agency as an advocate for its customer.

All these changes confirm Manon Martel in any case.

We are not about to disappear, I can assure you. We are a very resilient industry.

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