Q – This may be far too broad a question but my husband and I are really worried about future travel in 2021 and 2022. Our primary concern is how badly hit these hotels and tour operators have been. Will most bounce back or are going to have to adjust to far fewer accommodation options when we travel in the future. Are there going to be any travel agents left and how will we find them post-pandemic? Just how badly hit has your industry been during this uncertain period?
A- Ok, let’s see if we can get to the heart of what you want to know. No one should underestimate the impact, so far, on companies in the travel industry who went from operating at or near 100% in season to current booking patterns of zero percent. How many industries could handle that and re-emerge in anything like normal condition?
Just about 11% of the working population in the US was in the hotel or leisure travel industry. But this segment has lost an estimated 40% of its jobs, Just about 8 million jobs in travel & tourism will have been taken by Covid-19. This has drained about $2 Billion per day from the US economy per day. It is estimated that 35-40% of all travel agents will leave the profession. That is on top of the 40% that left the industry during the first decade of this century.
The hotel industry has been hit hard overseas. But some of the smaller, family-owned hotels are in better financial shape than many larger properties that depend on meeting and convention revenues which seem to be largely nonexistent. We think that you will continue finding boutique hotels of interest.
As for travel agents/consultants – think of them as personal hair stylists. The best among them have a following and their services will continue to be in demand. But there will be a good deal of address-changing with many more travel agents working out of home-based offices. The pandemic has shown consumers how helpful an agent advocate can be when compared to the faceless headsets that kept trying to handle refunds and re-bookings in third-world call centers.
We are all going to be OK. The world really is waiting for you and there are going to be numerous emotional returns to lands separated by oceans.