As we go to press, much of the Eastern Seaboard is getting back to normal following Hurricane Sandy. From a travel agents’ point of view, in the short term, there is no doubt that Sandy wreaked havoc on the travel industry; what is far less clear, however, is what long-term impact Sandy will have on travel. The fallout is even harder to predict for travel agents in the West.
The level of impact Sandy will have on Western agents will have much do with the customer make-up of the particular agency. Travel agencies with many clients back East should probably expect to see a slow-down in business this holiday season as families choose to rebuild instead of spend on travel. An important exception to this might be an increase in family travel. As we’ve seen with past tragedies, events such as these often inspire a “togethering” effect where people feel motivated to spend more quality time with loved ones.
This togethering response could be seen in families in the West as well who, despite not being directly in harm’s way, were reminded of the importance of enjoying life when they can. In addition, travelers in the West might find opportunity in vacancies, lower rates and smaller crowds in typical holiday destinations.
So what can the Western agent do to prepare for the long-term effects of Sandy? To begin with, agents should reach out to clients on the East Coast to make sure that they are safe and to let them know that you stand by ready to help. Next, it might be a good time to check in with the clients who were not directly affected by Sandy to find out if the hurricane has changed their holiday travel plans at all, or even just to see if they have any travel-related questions you can answer. Putting yourself top of mind — and positioning yourself as an expert in all things travel-related — can only help you going forward.
Of course, the travel industry as a whole — from hotels to cruise lines — has been quick to respond to the needs caused by Sandy. Please do what you can to help the hurricane victims in whatever way you see fit. The Red Cross has a relief fund set up online at RedCross.org/Hurricane_Aid.