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After being cooped up at home for the majority of the year, clients are ready to turn their travel dreams into reality.
“For many of our clients, these lockdowns have been a time to reflect on what is important in life and many tell me they will never again say ‘one day I should do this or that,’” Dennis Hillier, a Senior Travel Associate at Northstar Travel, tells Travel Courier. “For many of us, we now realize one day is here.”
Throughout the pandemic, the agency continued to reach out to clients even while restrictions were in place.
“The day of the first lockdown we emailed all our clients to let them know that they would receive a weekly email update from us — throughout this last year we also picked up a lot of new clients who told us they have not heard from their travel agent since the start of the virus,” he says.
By planning ahead for future bookings, they made use of email blasts and phone calls to get clients thinking about their bucket lists, get eager travellers locked in on trips with fully refundable deposits for 2022 and 2023, and warned them that prices would rise as things open up.
“This has certainly proven to be true as some of the trips we were booking a few months ago have risen in price by as much as 100%,” he says. “Space will be limited as folks continue to re-book cancelled trips — and this to has proven true as many 2022/2023 trips are now sold out.”
By proactively reaching out to clients during the lockdown, Northstar Travel fielded bookings to South Pacific, South America, Australia, New Zealand and Asia, in addition to the usual bookings to Europe.
“In fact, to our surprise, Asia has been a top seller throughout the virus,” he says. “The number one place that our clients tell us is still on their bucket list is an African Safari — as soon as this part of the world opens up we are ready to make this a reality for them.”
While the bulk of commission isn’t coming in yet, he says in the last 12 months they’ve made as many new bookings for 2022/2023 as they would normally book in the span of three to four years.
“Now we are waiting for 2024 trips to open up so we can get our clients ahead of the pack,” he adds, noting that Viking River Cruises and Norwegian Cruise Lines are doing well because of their flexible conditions and reduced deposits. “With all the news headlines of folks struggling to get refunds for bits and pieces of their travel it has convinced many that it is best to book everything together with one tour operator as much as possible for the foreseeable future.”
Meanwhile, Krista Tovell of Tovell Travel in London, Ont., points out that the seeds agent plant today will become the fruit they pick up tomorrow.
“Meaning, work hard on your business today with reaching out to your clients through weekly communication and networking to stay top of mind,” she explains. “This way when your clients are ready to book, they remember you and know who to come to. Staying in constant communication with your clients also lets them know that you have not left the business and you are there for them when they are ready to book their next vacation getaway.”
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