This week is National Travel & Tourism week, and today, May 6th, is National Travel Agent Day! The past couple of months have certainly been unlike anything else we have encountered, and we want to applaud and recognize the resilience of travel agents and others working in the hospitality industry at this time.
Globally, the travel and tourism industry accounts for over 330 million jobs – that’s 1 out of every 10 jobs around the world. Here in the US, the travel and tourism sector supports 9 millions jobs and accounted for approximately 2.8% of the U.S. DGP in 2018. U.S. Department of Commerce. To say our industry has been affected by the ramifications brought about by the Covid-19 Pandemic would be an understatement.
But we will survive.
We know and understand that travel will be one of the last sectors to fully recover, but we also recognize how vital travel is to people around the world. Travel brings us together. It allows us to connect with our family and friends away from the distractions of our everyday lives. We gain new experiences. We make memories. We laugh, we love, we learn, and we connect with each other when we travel. Travel will return. And hard-working travel agents will be here to help you make meaningful travel memories.
Here are just a few key things you may not know about travel agents and how we book travel:
So, when you are ready to travel again, please book your travel with a professional travel advisor. We don’t care who, or what travel agency – ultimately, we are all on the same team. But please, use a live person and do not click “book now” on a travel booking website.
Know WHO you are booking with. We cannot stress to you enough the importance of working with a legitimate travel agency for your travels. Online booking sites, big box wholesalers and travel clubs do not have your personal interest at heart. There are countless travel-related horror stories circulating at this time. People are unable to reach the website customer service teams, are being given incorrect information or no information at all from wholesalers. Numerous online travel booking sites have completely shut down in light of the pandemic, leaving customers stranded. Others are stuck speaking with travel club “agents” who have no idea how to proceed through this event, as they signed on with a travel-related MLM Company on the promise of free vacations. Google it or search Facebook for “Scammed by <insert OTA or Wholesale Retailor here> and read the guests stories for yourself.
Please understand that Travel Professionals like those of us here at Once Upon a Time Vacations and our sister organization Storytellers Travel are focused on doing what is best for you, our loyal guests, so that you don’t have to worry. Our agents are making calls to all our suppliers and destinations as information is released, dealing with the hold times, making changes and cancellations and ensuring that you are our top priority right now! Providing the best service possible to you is of the utmost importance to us, just as providing the best medical care is of utmost importance to a Doctor or Nurse.
We know many of you are disappointed by the cancellation of your vacations. We appreciate you and hope to have happier news soon. In the meantime, take a moment to hug your travel advisor digitally - they could use the encouragement! Please feel free to thank your personal advisor in the comments below - we’ll make sure they get the message!
To our guests – we thank you for entrusting us with your precious vacations. We can’t wait to get back out there and celebrate the #SpiritofTravel with you.
And to our industry colleagues, you are warriors and we can’t wait to travel with you again.
Until we meet again,
The Teams at Once Upon a Time Vacations and Storytellers Travel