A Bromley-based personal travel agent says she has seen people’s confidence in onboard travel grow despite the challenges the industry is currently facing.
Sarah Spriggs works from home as a freelancer with Holidays Please, an ATOL protected agency.
It serves local clients, family and friends, as well as people from further afield in the UK with both overseas and homestay holiday planning services.
Sarah previously worked for a variety of tour operators selling everything from vacations in spades to luxury packages and has now worked in the industry for over a decade.
After being laid off due to the pandemic, she took the opportunity to become a personal travel agent.
She started the role just over a year ago and was excited to continue working in the travel industry as it was “something she loved”.
Sarah told The News Shopper: “Over time I see more and more people coming forward and they are getting more confident to travel, but I also see a lot of people planning for the near future in 2023 and 2024.
“It’s usually those big trips they’ve wanted for a long time or special occasions such as honeymoons.
“I think everyone felt stuck and pretty trapped during Covid, so having those great trips to look forward to that are once-in-a-lifetime places.”
She explained that the cost of living didn’t seem to be a major barrier to people going on dream vacations, but some weighed the value between overseas trips and staycations.
Sarah said: “A few people have also been able to save a little for this bigger holiday during Covid.
“I think staycations were great for Covid when people still wanted vacations, but people really want to travel now that the restrictions are better.
“It’s still quite expensive to travel to the UK – like with Cornwall you can do a family of four for around £1,000, but you also have to pay for all the extras here where everything goes up.
“You could go to Spain for £1,600 for the same thing and of course you can’t guarantee the weather here.”
Heathrow announced passenger numbers had risen to 79% of pre-coronavirus levels last month and 5.3 million people passed through the airport in May.
Heathrow is one of several UK airports that have seen long queues in recent weeks as the aviation sector struggles to cope with rising travel demand amid staff shortages .
Sarah said that while a few of her customers were nervous about the issues many airports are currently facing, it has yet to result in a cancellation.
She said: “I think there’s some trepidation of ‘is this going to happen to me? which is understandable, but no one has called me yet for a new reservation.”
Another point Sarah brought up was how travelers were more concerned about financial protection in the wake of the pandemic.
A study by travel insurance specialist AllClear found that 79% of those surveyed planned to spend more than they would have before the pandemic, with the average amount being £106 more.
Sarah said: ‘We always recommend people get travel insurance as soon as they book the holiday and not wait.
“I think people just want to know that their money is okay and they can travel, and if they can’t, they get their money back.
“That’s one of the reasons I would recommend booking with a travel agent.
“Some people need that extra support because of all the issues that have arisen with Covid or the forms or the flights.
“I’m like a second pair of eyes to confirm everything’s okay or to say ‘hey, you gotta do this’
“I think it makes them feel a little more secure.” Sarah added.
Sarah said she’s seen the popularity of ‘fly-and-drive’ vacations, where people pick up cars overseas and take a road trip through popular destinations like Route 66 in America.
Honeymoons and special trips for couples were also often in demand, including holidays to the Maldives in South Asia and other more upmarket beach breaks.
Sarah explained that people are also eager to travel with large groups, desperate to spend time with loved ones after a long period of Covid restrictions.
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