Chat to a travel agent right now and you’ll hear how crazy busy they are. I reached out to my travel agent (Greg from Travel Utopia) from Canada with a question about my return flights and he answered immediately. It was 11.30pm his time. He joked that he was across all time zones at the moment.
Here’s where the numbers don’t add up. We lost a lot of travel agents to the pandemic. Because of the pandemic, travel planning is complex and we’re booking with travel agents like never before. Because of the pandemic there’s a surge on travel, but there are staffing shortages across the globe resulting in cancelled or delayed flights and airport congestion, so we’re contacting our travel agents like never before. No matter which way you’re looking at it, our travel agents are burning out.
Travel agent Sekha Walsh had clients in Thailand who wanted to change their booking such that the Mum and Bub could stay on a bit while Dad went home. That wasn’t a problem. Bub was attached to Dad’s ticket so had to be moved to Mum’s, but when the ticket was reissued, Qantas couldn’t see Bub under Mum’s booking (Emirates ticket with some Qantas operated flights). And then there was the whole booking of a bassinet.
Over the course of two days, Walsh called Qantas three times and Emirates twice. He was on the phone for eight hours.
But he’s still passionate about his job.
Flight Centre has a call out for 1,000 travel agents and according to Seek.com, roles for travel agents and consultants have risen 152% since the start of the year.
“This upward trend over the past five months is indicative of an industry that is getting back on its feet and preparing for a big year of travel,” Kendra Banks, Managing Director at SEEK ANZ said.
But have we lost the old guard for good? What will bring them back or entice new blood to the industry?
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