This issue’s cover story, “Three Days, one Big Apple” (page 12), features one of my favorite domestic destinations, New York City, and offers some great hour-by-hour options for your clients.
I’m glad this issue is focused on a destination a bit closer to home for many of us. With all the uncertainty in key international destinations this summer, it would be wise for agents to brush up on their knowledge of domestic vacation spots as well. Between the ash cloud in Europe, the oil spill in the Gulf and political unrest in Thailand and Korea, for instance, travelers will surely have a lot of concerns about their upcoming summer vacations, and agents should prepare for last-minute scrambling when travel plans change. Now is a great time for agents to step up and use their expertise as a selling point. Having a wide range of destination information and travel experience — including being up on the latest information about travel insurance — could go a long way with skittish clients.
The good news is that, finally, reports suggest people plan on traveling again this summer. A recent American Express survey said more than half of Americans (51%) are planning a summer vacation this year, and this number is stronger among affluent consumers (73%) and young professionals (83%). Furthermore, when it comes to vacation planning, more than a third of travelers say they are turning to offline resources, including travel agents, for planning and booking. Also, another American Express survey of affluent consumers reported that, while discretionary spending still lags, the mindset of these consumers is much more optimistic and guilt over purchasing luxury goods has decreased significantly in the past year.
All signs point to a strong rebound for travel; however, agents need to stay up to date on volatile situations around the world. Like no other time, this summer, the agent who is prepared with options to save a client’s vacation is the one that will keep that customer for years to come.