Canadian travel insights

Whether or not they are ready to travel soon, Valente Travel’s Lisa Tetzlaff says people are quickly discovering that the time to book is now.

“Those that want to travel and do Europe need to book now or may not get the date and tours that they want if they wait,” the certified Sandals & Beaches specialist and certified autism travel professional from Windsor, Ont. tells Travel Courier. “Calls have been coming in and I have been making bookings for tours and cruises for 2022 and 2023.”

As international travel heats up and people are eager to explore again, the agency is finding that prices are going up — not down.

“There are some people that think there will be great deals to get everyone wanting to travel again, but I haven’t seen too many of those,” she says. “The demand for travel is going to be higher than the supply we will be offered so trying to find availability at a last minute for those that are used to doing that kind of trip will be difficult. Travel requirements are changing and as vaccinations continue to roll out we will start seeing more and more people booking their long dreamed about trips.”

Michelle Loran, manager, Vacations Away Inc., based in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, is feeling more optimistic about the recovery of the industry as the global COVID situation improves.

“It won’t happen overnight, but we believe it will gradually improve to some sort of ‘normal.’ We are feeling more hopeful,” she says. “We are seeing an uptick in interest and bookings are picking up, at long last. As we have limited direct options out of Saskatoon, we have been selling a lot of Mexico, some DR, Hawaii and European river cruises.”

Loran, who is dreaming of visiting Iceland, is ready for the comeback.

“We are happy to have been able to ride out this event and we look forward to coming back stronger and wiser,” she says.

Although inquiries are picking up, travel advisor Eric Cohen of Richmond Hill based Infinite Departures Travel, says the agency primarily sells family travel to the South Pacific — mainly to Australia and New Zealand — and as a result hasn’t yet had a surge in bookings.

“We are still not seeing active bookings to those destinations as they will remain closed to foreign travellers for the foreseeable future,” he says. “In addition, as younger children are still not fully vaccinated, many families remain cautious about long distance international travel. Given the destinations and demographic market that we focus on, our recovery will likely take longer than most other advisors.”

That said, the agency is pivoting to promote geographically closer travel destinations for Canadian families, including Caribbean and Mexican resorts, Hawaii, theme park travel to Orlando, Florida, and cruises.

“The recent announcement of quarantine exemption for fully vaccinated travellers has had the biggest impact on spurring new inquiries and I believe that it is the most positive sign of recovery to date for the outbound Canadian travel industry,” he says. “That said, significant impediments to international travel still exist, especially with the continued blanket Canadian travel advisory against non-essential travel remaining in place.”

Meanwhile Krista Tovell of Tovell Travel in London, Ont. believes people want to travel and travel agents will be in demand more now than ever.

“Booking travel is no longer as simple as going online to book a trip,” she says. “Knowing the terms and conditions of each supplier for each component of a client’s trip plus the entry, transit and exit requirements for COVID means more research and time on every reservation.”

Regardless of how long someone has been in the industry or what their niche is, she hopes to see more travel advisors charging professional fees for their services.

“We are all professionals and deserve to be compensated for our time. I believe we should change our mindset to being compensated for our work from the client,” she says. “The commission we receive is a supplier bonus for working with them. If we have learned anything through this experience, it should be that we cannot count solely on supplier commissions as a means to support our businesses.”

Currently, Tovell has a growing number of clients booking international travel.

“I think everyone is a little COVID-tired and the vacations that people have been dreaming about are now being booked. Whether this is a trip to visit family in Europe, a relaxation and wellness trip to South America, or a cruise in Europe, clients are wanting to get out and explore.”

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