The Revival of the Travel Agent Industry
Oh no, another article about COVID-19? Ok yes we hear you, and we know that the pandemic has been covered over and over again. But hear us out. It’s come to our attention that travel agents are seeing a revival in the post-COVID-19 world. Who would have thought? The travel agent industry is poised to a serious comeback and we are already seeing this based on the number of high risk merchant account requests we are getting online.
So what’s the cause of this travel agent boom after COVID-19. Well some answers are obvious but others may surprise you.
We Are Emerging With An Itch To Travel
After spending over 2 years cooped up, social distancing, and sticking to our own little corners of the world, we are emerging with an itch to travel. A quick look at the data shows that travel spending is back at 2019 levels and has risen over the past 4 quarters, according to the US Travel Association and McKinsey. Here’s the data:
- As of July, 36% of Americans plan to travel in the next three months.
- Domestic trips will lead the recovery, especially in countries with sticker COVID-19 travel restrictions.
Just take a look at your preferred social media of choice. You can easily spot the looming trend. People are traveling again, and now that the option is there, it may reach new levels. But why does this affect the travel agent industry?
Travel Is More Complicated Than Ever Before
Traveling in the post-COVID-19 world has changed the way we all take vacations. It’s not as simple as purchasing a plane ticket anymore. Travels have to consider travel restrictions and rules.
Many countries have their own rules and regulations for travelers looking to visit and some countries are still not allowing any outsiders to visit. Since the rules and regulations are consistently changing as the world adjusts to this new norm, it is important for travelers and travel agencies to stay updated.
And this is driving the boom for travel agents.
Travel agents are in a unique position to become COVID-19 travel experts. Understanding the regulations and procedures that currently hinder open travel, puts travel agents in a unique positon to not only plan vacations, but to also ensure that that vacationers stay on the right side of the law.
As of this year, many countries have dropped strict COVID-19 quarantine rules but most airlines still require some level of precaution.
“Countries in Europe that have gotten used to living with manageable caseloads of COVID-19 have begun to welcome visitors without asking them to quarantine: Iceland (March 2021), Cyprus (May 2021), and Malta (June 2021). In addition, Europe is open to vaccinated US travelers. After the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) started approving cruise vessels with conditional sailing certifications to enter the country, a Florida federal court ruled in June 2021 that CDC-issued regulations should serve only as nonbinding guidelines, further reducing restrictions on tourists.” – McKinsey.
For more on international vacationing, find a list of international travel restrictions here.
COVID-19 Long Lasting Effects on Travel
After being confined to homes, many people around the world have been itching to travel. This has led to a huge change in the travel industry. People prefer to travel in smaller groups avoiding activities that include strangers, drive rather than take a flight or train, and stay in places for a longer period of time. For travel agencies, they must be able to accommodate this new way of vacationing.
It is difficult to plan longer and safer trips as a solo traveler especially when many places may still have strict COVID restrictions. This is where the travel agent industry has been thriving. Being able to provide travelers with a travel plan tailored to their interests while also making sure the safety guidelines are followed for that state or country.
Some new aspects of travel to make it easier for vacationers are:
- Contactless check-in for hotels
- Less crowded restaurants with limited seating
- Virtual tours of museums
- New technologies for booking from a smartphone
- Time blocks for activities to limit the number of people at a certain time
However, these changes come with the possibility of cancellations. At the beginning of COVID, many flights and hotels offered free cancellations or free rescheduling. So what does that mean for travel agencies? The travel agency industry sets up vacation packages for customers that include transportation, hotels, activities, and more. If plans change for the customer, they are at a higher risk of requesting a chargeback if they cannot reschedule or cancel for a full refund.
But with the change of pace for traveling, it is important for high risk travel industry professionals and business stay protected as well. Travel agencies are a part of the high risk businesses. Customers are making large purchases so the potential for fraud and chargebacks is high, especially when there are multiple transactions.
How to Reduce Risks for Travel Agents
Reducing the risks for travel agents whether they are solo or a part of a large company is super important if you plan on growing your business. Working with a high risk merchant account provider can assist with card transactions, chargeback ratios, and provide a rolling reserve. These providers will have years of experience in the high risk travel industry in order to take on the unique challenges that come with travel companies.
Specializing in high risk merchant types of businesses, the corporate travel and solo travel agents can feel confident when they work with high risk merchant services. They allow small businesses to grow and large businesses to increase their profit, so the agents can focus on providing excellent customer service with peace of mind.
Even with deposits and no refund policies in place, it is always difficult to avoid customers going through their bank to request a chargeback when they cancel a trip. Different trips come with different types of financial risks. Travelers risk not being able to pay for multiple transactions at a time and these processed payments will not go through. This risk is also huge for travel agents because many times it leads to fraud, and applying to have a high risk merchant can help minimize these risks.
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