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According to a recent survey of more than 500 travel advisors for TravelAge West’s Need to Know research series, agents are divided when it comes to resuming their pre-pandemic professional routines.
Nearly 77% of surveyed advisors are continuing to work from home, with 27% moving to a home-based office as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. However, one-third of respondents say they are eyeing an office return in the first half of 2021, while 23% believe they will return at the end of 2020. Eighteen percent anticipate a return in the second half of 2021, and 2% predict they won’t return to a brick-and-mortar location until 2022 or beyond. Notably, about one-fourth of advisors don’t anticipate returning to an office at all.
These numbers mirror agents’ sentiments about face-to-face meetings with clients or suppliers: Although about 18% are currently meeting their business partners in person, some 38% believe they will begin meeting in the first half of 2021; 21% before the end of this year; 19% in the second half of 2021; and 4% expecting to wait until 2022 or later.
Perhaps most surprising is that, of these advisors, a majority is still practicing caution when it comes to flying. Although 22% have flown in the past 90 days, nearly 80% have stayed off airplanes.
And when asked when they would be willing to attend a fam trip that includes a flight, advisors were evenly split with their answers: About one-fourth would attend a fam in the latter half of 2021; a quarter would attend in the first half of 2021; and a quarter would attend if offered the opportunity now. Only 8.5% believe they would wait until 2022 or later.
Heather Christopher, owner of Heather Christopher Travel Consulting, recently returned from a fam trip to Sugar Beach, a Viceroy Resort in St. Lucia. She said she was surprised that so few advisors have flown on a plane, as “first-hand experience really comes into play” when closing a sale.
“I cannot say how happy I am to get out there and see how a place is, and to see how [its COVID-19 requirements] work,” she said. “The overall sentiment is that we are getting to the point where we have to get out there and do it to encourage people to travel, while showing them what hang-ups they are going to have.”
“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.