With the unfortunate circumstances surrounding the closure of Thomas Cook Travel there has been much water cooler and media talk around whether this is the death knell for the travel agent.
The reality of it is that I think there will be some secondary and quite strong impacts on both small and large businesses in Europe and North Africa, who rely on this type British travel package market.
The people affected are travelling essentially on package holidays to find some sunshine and they would be going on mass to these locations.
There are also the 21,000 staff who have up to this point been employed by Thomas Cook. For them the doors of the business have now been shut and my heart does go out to them and their families.
In terms of the current situation there is no real impact on Australian travellers as Thomas Cook has not operated here for some time.
Regarding the impact here in Australia it is important to understand that the structure of Australian travel agents is quite different, compared to what we see with
Thomas Cook, and that means the likelihood of something like a collapse happening here in Australia is remote.
However, the sky is not falling here in Australia.
The Australian travel agent industry is very strong, it’s debt-free and it’s a very different model to other parts of the world.
There are many Australians travelling overseas who still head to their travel agents.
Here are a few quick facts from the Australian Federation of Travel Agents (AFTA) about how the Australian Travel Agent Industry is going.
– Travel agencies are a major employer within the community in which they operate, employing over 30,000 Australians and contributing over $28 billion annually to the economy.
– It’s worth noting that there are currently more travel agent locations throughout Australia than there are Australia Post office outlets, and the continued consumer demand for travel agent expertise should not be underestimated.
AFTA also conducted market research in 2018 which concluded that:
– Over 70% of all international departures are booked through a travel agent
Let’s talk about the consumers and what they want.
What the consumer wants is human interaction and they want to know they are getting the best bang for their buck.
They want to know they’re not missing something, and even though they can search through a myriad of travel websites, they want to know if they are getting the best deal??
As anyone who has travelled from Australia knows, stopovers, layovers, connecting flights and complex itineraries are part of the process and having their travel agent there to assist it not only time saving but also less stressful.
It’s all about the consumers holiday whether it’s an annual holiday or the trip of a lifetime.
Why do people take vacations? To take a break from work. Reconnect with family. A romantic getaway. To visit a destination that they have always wanted to visit.
And quite often it is the travel agent that is helping to tick all of the above.
I think it’s quite clear that the sky is not falling.