Travel has been one of the hardest-hit industries by the COVID-19 global pandemic. However, people are eager to start traveling again, and many are seeking out travel advisors like you to book their trips. Leisure travel has increased dramatically since 2020. Now that travel has again begun in earnest, there are added safety protocols, requirements, and rules that make travel planning even more complex than before.
Smart travel advisors like you must plan ahead while remaining flexible when policies change, and new requirements are added. Earlier and more comprehensive planning is
required now more than ever. It is an added challenge, but it solidifies the faith your clients have in you and makes planning a successful trip all the more rewarding.
When Do Most Clients Start Thinking About Upcoming Trips?
The pandemic has caused many to rethink their travel strategies. Some have decided to wait until almost the last minute to book travel or reach out to a travel agency. They likely believe (and maybe for good reason) that too much will change in the time leading up to a trip. They may think it simply isn’t worth it to book further in advance at the moment. Others have the opposite mindset; they book earlier in advance with an agent to have peace of mind that something is on the calendar to look forward to.
On average, clients booking leisure, life-changing trips tend to do so six to twelve months in advance. Those planning shorter trips or summer vacations tend to start thinking about it three to six months before and start planning or reaching out to an agent one to five months in advance.
Best Practices: When Should You Plan the Details of a Luxury Vacation?
The sooner you can start planning luxury vacation details for your client, the better. The more time you have, the better able you are to research your client’s destination and reach out to your contacts on the ground to better understand leisure travel in the area. You can also offer the best hotels, packages, and excursions to your client with advance notice. It is still wise to remain flexible as you book in advance; some key components of travel can wait until just a few months or weeks out from the trip. Still, with more flexible policies in place regarding flights, changes, and cancellations, it makes sense to book luxury vacations early.
Tips for Travel Advisors Who Want to Plan Ahead
There are a few key things to keep in mind for those of you wanting to plan ahead, including destination, seasonality, client expectations, flexibility, and planning.
5 Things to Remember
The destination should be top of mind when planning for a client. Know the requirements of the area, including any special regulations. Know whether it is feasible to travel there and if there are any safety or health concerns in the area. Also, understand and keep your client’s risk tolerance in mind with respect to their destination and desired activities.
Keep in mind the seasonality in tourism, which will affect the number of visitors, the price and availability of hotels, and experiences in the location your client wants to visit. Early planning is critical if your client desires to travel during the high season. If it is during the low season, make sure they are aware of the factors that tend to cause the low season, including weather, availability and access, and public and school holidays.
Clarify and understand your client’s top priority for the trip and build their itinerary around it. Know what their other priorities are and include them in the itinerary. Suppose your client’s ultimate goal is to visit a specific museum and see world-famous artwork; research whether or not the desired museum is open and if any special arrangements are required, such as reservations, masks, or proof of vaccination. Recognize that many events remain limited or closed, and conferences, shows, and exhibitions are limited. Be prepared to propose alternate solutions to your clients’ priorities should special exhibitions be closed. For example, you could arrange a private outdoor tour of architecture instead of indoor, walking tours instead of tour buses, or personal and small-group tours instead of open admission.
As we have explored, travel requires more flexibility than ever before, including prices. Due to inflation, disruption from the war in Ukraine and the pandemic, and other reasons, prices remain higher than average. You can make your clients aware of this while at the same time guaranteeing that booking through you will save them money, stress, and time. With prices expected to increase, earlier bookings make more sense financially.
As you move forward with planning and booking, retain plenty of flexibility as events and policies change. Many contacts you work with understand the unprecedented nature and will also try to be flexible. Establish clear understanding upfront of what can be fully
refunded and covered due to exceptional events, and build flexible cancellation into your clients’ plans.
You may be tempted to cut costs by booking non-refundable portions but be cautious in doing so. Having flexible bookings will save you money, time, and headache in the long run as things change so quickly.
Navigating concerns and restrictions can be challenging and require additional planning and support to execute leisure travel successfully. It is essential to plan earlier and research more to make a successful travel plan.
How Recent Events Have Changed Travel Planning
Current world events such as COVID-19, the war in Ukraine, supply chain issues, inflation, and more have made travel planning more difficult, and more people are relying on travel advisors like you to book their leisure travel. It is more important than ever before to have flexibility in travel plans and plan for the unknown.
Doing so requires communicating with your network on the ground and using your knowledge and resources to understand what is happening in real-time and how that could positively or negatively affect prices, flexibility, and certainty. It also requires you to remain open as things change. It may feel exasperating to have daily or sometimes hourly changes. Remaining flexible and leaning on your support network are vital to weathering the changes that are sure to come.
How a Host Travel Agency for Travel Advisors Helps You Plan Ahead
A host travel agency gives you the added support you need in these unprecedented times. A host travel agency allows travel agents the flexibility of running their own business while supporting them with essential scaffolding and benefits, such as:
- Networking and relationships
- A sense of community
- High compensation and commissions
- Training webinars and conferences
- Continuing education
- Financial stability
- Invoicing services
- Travel technology
Andavo Travel is the premier host agency for travel agents seeking access to the world’s top vendors, tour operators, and hoteliers for luxury travel. Andavo Travel is a proud member of Virtuoso for over 20-years, giving access to a well-appointed portfolio of the best brands and partners in the industry.
As a top host travel agency, we are selective in our travel agents and partner with the best. If you would like to discuss becoming an Andavo travel affiliate or have more questions, call to learn more today. We look forward to supporting you as you take travel planning to the next level.