5 reasons why travel agents are still relevant in a Covid-19 world
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While people are not rushing to their nearest travel agent to book an exotic trip, the role of travel agents remains important. During their time in lockdown, travellers are still dreaming of packing their bags and escaping to exotic destinations and will need professional help once borders open.
Here are 5 reasons why travel agents are still relevant in a Covid-19 world:
They keep your travel dreams alive
Many travellers have had to put their travel dreams on hold due to the pandemic. Special trips like birthday celebrations, honeymoons and other leisure trips were postponed. By postponing rather than cancelling, travel advisors kept clients’ travel dreams alive, while forming a connection with them on a whole new level. Travel advisors have made it their mission to overcome the obstacles of amending entire itineraries, minimising cancellation penalties and keeping clients hopeful at the prospect of realising their travel dreams in the future, post-Covid-19.
They fight for your right to refunds
There have been many horror stories of people unable to secure refunds for their holidays. Call hold times to airlines and cruise lines reportedly ran up to three to four hours, only to be disconnected. Representing 95% per cent of South Africa’s retail travel community, Association Of Southern African Travel Agents (ASATA) saw many of its members working around the clock to re-accommodate travellers who dealt with rapidly changing airline and supplier policies in the early days of lockdown. Despite many suppliers refusing to issue refunds, travel advisors have unwaveringly fought for their clients’ rights under the Consumer Protection Act. Travel agent Lara Casasola shared a success story: “My client did not want to make use of a travel voucher. I made a personal call, and after hours to our airline representative, was given a waiver to refund the client in full. This was against airline policy at the time, but achieved due to the long-standing business relationship established over the years," she said.
They know the best destinations
Travelling in 2020 brings a whole set of new complications as countries continuously change and adapt to regulations to accommodate the impacts of Covid-19. Having a travel advisor by your side can go a long way in making sure you make the right decisions for your next holiday. These experts have a wealth of destination information that reaches well beyond the pandemic.
They help you prepare for a new and different travel experience
Travel will eventually return, and people across the world will once again explore other cultures and expand their horizons. However, the travel experience may be significantly different. Airports have since become ‘touchless’ environments, and travellers could be asked to produce ‘health passports’ to travel to certain destinations. The changes are endless and will no doubt be daunting for prospective travellers. Ingrid Burger-van Pinxteren, a travel designer for Kukummi Safaris, believes this is where the travel advisor plays a valuable role. “We are putting a lot of time and effort in personal services, providing clients with information that is factually correct and guiding them through the new travel process," she said.
They negotiate savings and perks on your behalf
Covid-19 has led to an unprecedented cash crunch that has left many South Africans with next to no disposable income.
The good news is that travel advisors often have access to deals that the average person doesn’t. As a result of the volume in which they purchase travel and the relationships they have built with suppliers, they can often offer you valuable savings on your holiday.