It’s the busiest day of the year for Travel but with our governments looking to shut down agents’ business we say The Travel Show Must Go On.
In pre-pandemic times, we flocked to book our summer holidays in the period between Christmas and New Year.
We’d all be seduced by the adverts released on Boxing Day.
And by we I mean us Scots, my old pals in Ireland (and I’m Scots-Irish after all) and the British body (and there are no, or shoudn’t be borders here).
But today, with high street travel agencies opening again to the public, enquiries and bookings are at a virtual standstill.
The Good Old Days
Back in the good old days, the number of daily travel bookings increased by between 9% and 62% in the days after Christmas.
And some surged by 69% in the post-Christmas week.
With similar rises also seen in the first week of the new year.
A quarter of British book their main holiday four to six months in advance of departure.
And 28% book between seven and 12 months before.
An expert speaks
My old fiend Joanne Dooey, president of the Scottish Passenger Agents’ Association says; ‘There’s no Christmas bonus for the travel sector this December.
‘There is no post-holiday spike for Scottish travel agents, as holidaymakers’ confidence in travel has been shattered over the last 20 months.
“This will push travel agents who have fought tirelessly for almost two years to save their businesses to the edge.’
And aren’t travel agents more important than ever to help us through the morass that is travelling in a pandemic.
Our dream makers
Back to Joanne: ‘In 2021, travel agencies were operating at just 22% of their previous annual revenue compared to pre Covid yet their fixed costs remained the same.
‘Many of our members tell us they were operating at 10% or less of previous years.’
Now our agents are our first point of contact when something goes wrong.
And wouldn’t it be good if for a change to tell our dream makers how much we appreciate them.?
The whole nine yards
Joanne reminds us: ‘Travel agents have become administrators; rebooking and issuing refunds while receiving no revenue and no grant support to help.
“We support those in all industries which have been told there is grant support there for them.’
Because as Joni Mitchell would say ‘you don’t know what you’ve got ‘til it’s gone.’
Joanne again: ‘Travel agencies are being pushed out of business by stealth.
‘Restrictions around travel have been oppressively stringent, meaning people have no confidence in travelling.’
Plan of attack
And at least she’s got a plan.
Go Joanne: ‘We need a structured plan to be drawn up by the Scottish Government in full consultation with all aspects of the travel industry which supports the future of Scottish travel rather than allowing it to wither and die.
“A viable plan would include winter resilience grants to keep travel businesses open and their staff in jobs.
‘The return of some form of furlough scheme to give income support to the sector is also vital.
‘Travel agents cannot simply close down as they need to remain open to continue to help their customers.
‘Rates relief to all high street travel agencies ought to be extended.
‘Agencies also require help with loan payments as they now face the repayments on the bank loans they took out at the outset of the pandemic after 20 months of negative income.
Think, think, think
Think about it. ‘They have spent all of their savings, dipped into their pensions and borrowed from friends and family.
‘One of the key support measures we need is the lifting of restrictions and testing to allow people to get travelling again and to give them the confidence to do so.’
And so The Travel Show Must Go On.