How Travel Advisors Are Handling the COVID-19 Crisis

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To understand how travel destinations can and should approach travel advisors during this unprecedented time, Development Counsellors International (DCI) conducted research among 457 travel advisors in the United States and Canada, designed to take the temperature of advisors, offering insight into their needs and expectations. The study was released March 23.

Key findings:

1. Optimism Pervades in Both Markets

Overall, travel advisors are very optimistic that there will be a return to “business as usual” in the near future. Nearly one-third of advisors anticipate participating in destination sales events within their home markets as early as May and almost 60 percent anticipate participating in destination sales events either May or June. U.S. travel advisors are slightly more optimistic about the ability of being able to attend destination sales events in their home market earlier than Canadian travel advisors.

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2. International Travel May Have to Wait

Advisors, understandably, are anticipating a slightly longer lead time around the ability to conduct FAM trips to international locations. For FAM trips to/within the U.S., one-quarter of respondents report a willingness to partake beginning in May and June (48 percent). Among all respondents, the willingness to participate in FAM trips internationally is highest in September. More than 30 percent report that May and June would be the earliest they would be willing to travel internationally.

3. Cruise Ship Bookings Floating Away

The cruise industry is being severely impacted with 87 percent of respondents reporting an impact on bookings. Industry reports are suggesting a longer recovery period for the cruise industry, as many spring 2020 cruises have already been canceled.

4. To-Do List: Cancelations and Rescheduling

The majority of travel advisors are seeing both itineraries cancelled and a decline in future bookings. Ninety percent of advisors reported that they saw cancellations of existing bookings and 82 percent saw a decline in future bookings for 2020. The silver lining, however, is that 64 percent of advisors say they are rescheduling trips—although it’s occupying most of their time (79 percent say this is their biggest time-consumer).

5. Not Just Biding Their Time

Despite dealing with these fallouts, many advisors in both markets report making good use of their time. While travel advisors are currently dealing with cancellations and reassuring clients about future bookings during most of their time, 38 percent report using this time to engage in professional education. These findings provide a significant opportunity for destinations to conduct webinars and other educational outreach to the influential audience and hopefully stay top of mind when the crisis is over.

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