At this point, we are all probably anxious to take a trip somewhere. And as we start traveling again, varying COVID-19-era rules and restrictions are going to make planning tough.
As a result, travel agencies could be seeing an uptick in clients looking for help with rules that are likely to change from place to place.
Thursday, after a visit to San Diego, Steve Wood is on his way back to Vegas, a bit refreshed.
“I think people are desperate to travel now. Lots of friends back in the UK and around Europe are all saying the exact same thing. We want life to get back to normal, desperate to go just anywhere else, something different you know?” Wood said.
Wood desperately wants to travel to London to see his mother, but that’s not possible right now with COVID restrictions.
“She’s been alone completely for a year. Terrified to go outside. So she goes to the supermarket every once in a while but she’s terrified,” he explained.
Planning a trip will no longer consist of just scouring for the best deals online. Navigating a world post-pandemic could be challenging.
“I’m not even sure where to look otherwise. Because all my questions: Can I go? What am I allowed to do? I have no clue. And there’s no place to look. I mean try Googling that. Good luck,” Wood said.
As more destinations open up, Lynn Aguilera with travel agency Protravel International said there is a renewed interest in travel advisors.
“There’s a lot of training that does go behind being a travel advisor. It’s not just going online and looking and reading the best reviews. But really knowing a vendor, knowing a tour operator, knowing the hotels ins and outs,” Aguilera said.
Aguilera said there is a lot to navigate, and a really good advisor for budget or luxury travel is going to have access that the average traveler won’t.
“There’s a lot to navigate. Its a lot of research online where a really good advisor, for budget or luxury, is gonna have access to and help any client navigate that road,” she said.
It’s become an unfamiliar road of COVID testing and quarantine rules. When the pandemic hit, Aguilera said advisors were swamped with handling canceled trips and airline ticket reimbursement for clients.
“We have direct lines to global distributing systems. So we are able to get in there just like an airline can and do the job that needs to be done,” she said.
Advisors are likely familiar and well-researched on destinations, hoteliers, cruises and tours that are following CDC guidelines.
“We are sending our clients to places like Mexico, which is open. They’re doing testing on site at certain locations and depending on length of stay, those tests are done at no cost to our clients,” said Aguilera.
Travel advisors that survived the pandemic have been preparing for a new era of travel that may actually revive a long declining part of the hospitality industry.