While business has picked up for travel agencies, they still face a number of headaches as the industry begins to recover from the coronavirus crisis, a Travel Experts member survey has found.
The Raleigh, N.C.-based host agency (No. 31 on Travel Weekly's 2020 Power List) found that members are concerned about slow and unresponsive suppliers; changing protocols and testing requirements that differ greatly from destination to destination; and uncertainty, especially in regards to cruising.
Travel Experts members also pointed to a number of other challenges they face in the current marketplace: Long phone waits, lack of availability of rental cars, higher airfares, frequent airline schedule changes, travel experiences where services have been cut, uncertainty in Europe, short lead time with client requests and the stability of suppliers.
"Beyond keeping current with ongoing changes regarding testing and entry requirements for a myriad of destinations, getting quotes and making changes with suppliers has reached frustration fever pitch," said Eileen Anderson of Journeys Afar in Raleigh, N.C., in her response to the survey. "We're hamstrung in delivering prompt responses to clients due to extensive hold times, slow responses to email inquiries, even chat features are not functioning due to increased volume and understaffing."
Despite those issues, Travel Experts said, all respondents said "business has picked up tremendously in the past two months."
Jolene Detillion of Your Travel Designer in Seattle said, "Travel has increased tenfold in just the past 60 days."
"While thankful for this, 90% of the inquiries we are receiving are very short lead time" within 45-60 days, Detillion said. That leads to limited options for clients.