As posted by Lisa Iannucci for Travel Pulse | September 14, 2017
It’s mid-September and a lot has happened this year that’s directly affected the travel industry.
There has already been a new administration and travel bans, an increase in in-flight incidences caught on video and, of course, hurricanes and wildfires that have threatened destinations.
With all of this happening and four months to go, we asked travel agents what their biggest concerns are for the rest of the year.
Samarah Meil is concerned about rising airfare costs.
“Airfare has steadily been increasing in price since June,” said Meil of Amarillo Travel Network in Amarillo, Texas. “I am hopeful that as we enter into fall and winter, we will see prices for 2018 be steady to help increase interest for booking early.”
When it comes to airlines, pricing isn’t the only concerns for travel agents.
“The biggest complaints this year have been flights with the major carriers,” said Debbie Brisky, owner of Beach Monkey Travel LLC in Burgettstown, Pennsylvania. “Connecting flights not having the adequate staff to get people to the next stop on their destination, super-greedy change fees, overbooking and then bumping people.”
Brisky is convinced that the only way this will change is for the major carriers to stop punishing people and realize they are clients and that customer service should be king.
“I think the best large carrier that is grasping this is Southwest,” she said.
Another of Brisky’s concerns is about her clients’ fears of traveling to Mexico: “I did a lot of research to combat my clients’ fears, showing them there is actually more crime in areas of the United States than the tourist areas of Mexico. It’s important as an agent that we don’t feed the fear, that we help our clients make informed decisions.”
Margie Lenau said that her biggest concern is that the airlines are confusing her customers.
“Travelers do not understand airline class, which is important now that airlines have tried to incorporate Basic Economy class,” said Lenau of Wonderland Family Vacations in Grand Rapids, Michigan. “This class doesn’t allow for seat selection, and they are the first group bumped if the flight is overbooked. Often, you are not allowed carry-on bags in the overhead compartment.”
When it comes to international travel, Johannes Reck, the CEO of Get Your Guide, sees over-tourism as the hot-button issue for the travel industry.
“Venice and Barcelona have had particularly rough summers—and drastic responses—when it comes to handling the volume of tourists passing through,” he said.
Johannes doesn’t support these knee-jerk reactions that try to cap or discourage travelers from visiting. Instead, he sees technology as the solution, such as the GetYourGuide’s collaboration with the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam.
It’s not a physically huge museum and had nearly reached the limit in terms of the number of visitors it can accommodate. To help solve the problem and encourage more visitors, GetYourGuide’s digital, mobile-friendly booking system has allowed the museum to assign more precise visiting times to the tickets it issues, which enables more visitors to be cycled through the physical space.
Of course, when it comes to traveling, the biggest so-called concern that Jeannette Candau has is that time is flying.
“Seriously, many people are realizing that the year is almost over and they still haven’t taken their vacations,” said Candau, co-owner of The Blue Walk.
“They’ve been too busy working. We remind them that there are still great, last-minute deals out there, so take your vacation as soon as you can. Trust us, the work isn’t going anywhere. It’ll be waiting for you when you come back.”