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According to a recent survey of more than 500 travel advisors, part of TravelAge West’s Need to Know research series, the government is going to play a key role in helping the travel industry recover from the COVID-19 pandemic. Nearly three-quarters of advisors (73%) say that government assistance will be very important for the recovery; another 26% feel it will be important or somewhat important; and only 2% think it will not be important at all.
These numbers are not surprising, since the majority (55%) of respondents have relied on government aid to keep them afloat since the pandemic started.
“The government absolutely needs to be involved in any recovery,” said Daniela Harrison, a travel advisor and director of marketing for Avenues of the World Travel in Flagstaff, Ariz. “I hate to say it, but travel advisors are often thought of last. Airlines got their money, and cruise lines and tour operators are clearly struggling, but advisors need to be thought of, too.”
There is no doubt that advisors are facing a worrisome future for their businesses. Only 35% indicate that they have not been worried at all about going out of business in the past 90 days, and the other 65% have been at least somewhat concerned by that prospect.
“I’m honestly surprised so many advisors say they are not worried,” Harrison said. “Booking for future travel has been starting to come back, and I’m sure many agencies have worked to reduce overhead and changed their fee structure, but it’s still very concerning out there. In my immediate circle, I’ve probably seen half of all advisors leave the business.”
When asked how long they can stay in business if travel does not increase, most agents say six months (33%), followed by one year (30%), more than one year (27%), three months (6%) and less than three months (4%).
Despite the seriousness of advisors’ business situation, agents are split on how fast suppliers should be restarting their business. A slight majority (52%) say they are concerned that some companies might be in too big a hurry, compared to the 48% that are not worried.
In general, however, most advisors (57%) are satisfied with the job the consortia are doing to support them — while 44% feel they can do better.
“We’re a Signature Travel Network agency, and we just had extensive training on fees and other business topics,” Harrison said. “I think the consortia are doing whatever they can to help us.”
“Need to Know” is a new weekly research series from TravelAge West that tracks the responses of advisors as they relate to various travel trends and topics. This survey recorded the responses of 519 advisors across the U.S. Click here to see more Need to Know stories.