Scottish agents see continuing trend of last minute bookings
As the traditional Scottish holiday season starts, a Scottish Passenger Agents’ Association (SPAA) members’ survey shows that the late booking trend is continuing.
Lates account for over 66% of bookings within the next three months and over 26% of those within six weeks of departure.
The majority of travel is to Europe, but both the USA and the Caribbean are popular.
The survey showed that SPAA members are still facing additional work in relation to last minute cancellations.
This issue has been especially challenging for Scottish agents with the added problem of connecting flights over London.
Agents are experiencing difficulties trying to amend a booking and find a suitable solution for their clients.
More than a third of agents report that it takes them more than two hours to get through to some companies and sometimes this was for minor items such as adding a date of birth, or the name of a new-born infant as automated systems are unable to cope with these types of issues.
Some commented that they regularly have had to wait up to six hours get through to airlines, cruise companies and tour operators by phone.
Email responses typically involve a wait of longer than 48 hours.
The survey paints a picture of an industry which is collectively exhausted due to the additional workload of rebookings and amendments currently facing it
This is at a time when many SPAA member business are also facing recruitment issues.
Mike Tibbert, president of the SPAA said: “Just because we’re now able to take to the air again, doesn’t mean the problems are over.”
“There were understandable reductions in staff across all travel operations. We’re seeing this impact with both flight and holiday cancellations.
“Scotland is not experiencing the chaotic scenes we’ve seen at some English airports, but the pent-up desire to travel paired with these cutbacks is certainly having an impact..”
The survey also shows that the Scottish travel agent sector is recovering strongly from an unprecedented period of negative income.
“Businesses still face significant challenges. Increasing flight and holiday prices are hitting travellers at the same time as the cost of living across the board is impacting on disposable income,” Tibbert added.
“Agents are faced with the rising business costs of running high street outlets such as energy prices at the same time as they are faced with repaying pandemic loans.”