The Covid-19 pandemic introduced travel disruption to the
world in its wildest form. Families estranged, lifesavings lost, people stranded
overseas and imprisoned on ships – not to mention business deals cancelled,
live concerts postponed indefinitely, and the media awash with everyone’s worst
While the devastating risks associated with travel were centre
stage, the ability to mitigate these risks by booking with a travel advisor is
the untold half of the story. The people who starred in our worst travel
nightmare and had booked with a professional travel advisor were grateful for
the human intervention and assistance. Many of those who relied on technology
alone, however, learned a harsh lesson.
As the travel landscape evolved into greater complexity, the
‘old way’ – with human-powered service and the personal touch – has become new
again, as the industry witnessed buying behaviour u-turn from digital platforms
back to human interaction.
Every travel enquiry in the current environment is attached
with unique circumstances, which simply are insoluble by leveraging digital
algorithms alone. Our parent company, Internova Travel Group, recently
conducted a survey that showed, in today’s climate, three out of four people
would prefer to book with a human travel advisor rather than online. With
continued uncertainty and rapidly changing rules and regulations, we expect
this trend to remain.
What should be noted is that as clients return to their
travel advisor, they are greeted with a service more meritorious than before. There
is a growing demand for travellers to seek out the advice of a travel expert to
help make sense of the complexity and to provide certainty (Am I eligible to
travel? What else is required from vaccine and testing requirements and time
limits? What are the quarantine guidelines? Are there stop-over rules? What are
the refund and cancellation policies? And what if something happens whilst
Simply put, the fundamental importance of the travel advisor
and the overall responsibility they bear on behalf of their client has evolved
their profession entirely.
The fast-track professionalisation of the travel advisor
comes with growing pains. Getting travel arrangements wrong in today’s world
can have severe consequences, leaving the advisor with a heightened
responsibility in their profession. Everyone’s job role has a spectrum, ranging
from comfortable efforts to maximum capacity – a pain-point only experienced in
certain seasons of the year for most. This is where our advisors have been
operating for a year and a half. The pressure is not without gain.
The weight of responsibility we bear now is what repositions
us as the next generation of travel. The
gap between the online travel bot (artificial intelligence) and the human
travel advisor has irreversibly widened – our services are no longer capable of
We, the people, are the future of travel and the service we
provide today is what seals our position for the future. A future where travel
advisors are empowered by technology, not replaced with technology. A future
where the travel advisor is a necessity, not an option.
While the Covid-19 pandemic introduced travel
disruption to the world in its wildest form, it also served as a reintroduction
of our travel advisors to the world in their highest form. We continue to fundamentally evolve to meet the higher demands
and complexities – the opportunities from here are limitless.