Travel Counsellors support line has seen a 20% increase in calls since January 1, following its launch at the beginning of the pandemic.
The careers helpline was originally set up to support independent high street travel agency owners seeking advice on working remotely during lockdown, but has expanded to offer assistance to all travel professionals in the pandemic. Five independent agents transitioned their ‘bricks and mortar’ businesses to Travel Counsellors last year.
Global Sales Director, Jim Eastwood, said: “As the Government’s furlough scheme continues, we’re seeing more travel industry professionals call for advice on their next move. These conversations are taking many forms, from launching a new business with us, to more general advice on where they want to take their career when travel upticks again. No matter their intentions our aim is to support experienced agents to find the best way forward for them, whether that’s by launching a new corporate or leisure business with us, or finding a path elsewhere that’s personal to them – the ultimate aim is to retain talent with the travel industry, and keep people who care about their customers within an industry they love.”
The rise in travel agent enquiries follows a steady stream of new businesses launched at Travel Counsellors in the last 12 months, with over 160 new business owners kick-starting their new venture virtually supported by remote induction training. This new cohort, of which 39 are corporate travel specialists, have reached over £1m in sales between them since launching their business last year.
Since the spring the company has launched a suite of digital support hubs designed to help both new and established business owners through turbulent times, which have now been accessed over 250,000 times. The company’s ‘Coronavirus Information Hub’, a bespoke-built in-house hub housing information on the latest Government announcements, travel restrictions, supplier policies and destination updates has been accessed over 75,000 times alone.
Eastwood continues: “The aim with all of our digital support hubs has been to help our Travel Counsellors and colleagues to continue to be there for their customers and each other, and stay in fighting-fit condition ready for an upturn in travel again. We’ve also been able to share a lot of the information and advice housed in our hubs with many of the enquirers to our helpline, offering to connect callers to chat to our already-established business owners about their first-hand experiences of the last few months, and their hopes and plans for the future.
“It seems spending more time at home and working remotely in lockdown has enabled more scope for people to reassess their goals, and whist we wait for travel to return to the level it once was, many of our new business owners are using this time to build their networks, reconnect with customers and brush-up on destination and supplier knowledge – ultimately they are training now to gain later.”
December saw the highest booking month for the company since the first lockdown period, with £5m re-bookings made, revealing customer desire to retain their future trips in the diary. The company further reports that in the first three weeks of January customers booked twice as many Greece and Spain departures versus the same period last year, and USA trips for Summer 2021 are now 80% of what they were this time last year.