2020 and 2021 Stunk for Travel. What About 2022? | TravelResearchOnline

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2020 and 2021 Stunk for Travel. What About 2022?

This time last year, I was optimistic about 2021.  We had some ups (vaccines, financial assistance, and a return to travel); but we had a whole lot more downs than I anticipated. Regardless, here we are in 2022 and I hope you all had a fantastic whatever-you-celebrate holiday and a happy New Year.  I am all rested and refreshed and now it’s time to take a deep breath and look ahead to 2022.

Travel has returned. Planes are flying full. Millions have been spent to make all aspects of travel as safe as possible. And I still don’t expect throngs of people rushing to their favorite travel professional to book that Wave Month getaway. Even with a vaccine, they are likely looking to spring, summer, and beyond. And as we move forward, selecting a preferred partner will become more critical. Some have shifted to an upfront commission system (if you need some cash flow), others are easier to work with when things go wrong. And remember, many insurance policies now exempt COVID since it is a known risk.

Cruising is still a problem. Unfortunately, cruising is still problematic. The cruise lines are doing all they can. But when you put the population of a medium-sized Midwestern town on a 1,000-foot ship, there are bound to be issues. Some people are not honest and will not meet the line’s requirements and just putting that many people in such a small space has its own issues. And of course, the recent CDC recommendation to avoid cruises has not helped at all either. While we all want to sell cruises, we need to remember our allegiance is first to the client. If it makes sense and they are aware of the risks—fine. Otherwise, I might steer them elsewhere this time.

Look locally. With the current omicron variant (and others invariably on the horizon), many people are wary of traveling outside of their bubble.  Let them travel in their bubble. There is plenty of opportunity for arranging RV vacations or drive vacations in 2022.  National Parks are on fire (figuratively at this point thankfully) as are small city stays. Look for commissionable theater and experience tickets in drive destinations; and if none, charge a fee. Quite honestly, if you are doing your job properly, a client that wanted a cruise or a trip to Paris may be talked out of it by the end of your conversation.

Our industry has never been more relevant and needed. Let’s be real, people are spooked about travel. Can I safely fly on a plane? What is the COVID situation in Guadalajara? What are the cleaning protocols of the different resorts in Jamaica? I heard there was an outbreak on a specific cruise ship, should I be concerned? How do I get medical treatment while traveling if I need it?  What are vaccination requirements? Testing? Is it free? All these questions are now top-of-mind for travelers (among the standard ones that drive us all crazy) and we are in a good place to answer them.  Do you really think a website will be able to discuss the cleaning protocols for Billy Bob’s Jamaican Resort and Bar?  And it should go without saying, but all questions and issues must be answered honestly and truthfully. Especially in this environment.

As travel continues to return in 2022, we will become the essential piece in the travel equation. Over the past few years, we have seen millennials shun websites and return to professionals for guidance. 2022 will exacerbate that.

As we enter 2022, we are licking our wounds for sure, and we will continue to do so for much (if not all) of 2022.  But, if you are still here after 2020 and 2021, you know what to do to survive, and we just need to hang on a bit longer!

Happy New Year!

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