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Published on Monday, April 27, 2020

An exciting and profitable journey lies ahead for travel agents


Cesenatico in Romagna, food and wine history port and beach - empty in spring and autumn

Maybe your opportunity of a lifetime … and what if this were only the beginning?

The travel industry started its boom in the 1960s because of four big, game-changing, global opportunities:

  • The cheapness of flying - lots of planes, low operating costs: cheap tax-free fuel, low landing and handling fees
  • Low-cost accommodation and services in warm, colourful resorts, largely due to massive infrastructure hand-outs from governments and development banks
  • A market that was desperate to experience something DIFFERENT
  • Cash upfront!

The industry has managed to preserve all this for a long time now. But these particular opportunities are over, at least for the next few years, so what opportunities do we have now? Governments may give...

  • Tax breaks and subsidies for airlines, cruise companies and domestic accommodation that survives?
  • Hand-outs for mega-tourism enterprises including WTTC members?
  • Startup company soft loans?
  • Many more massive soft loans from development banks like TUI's $2bn from KfW and KLM/Air France's $10bn

All sticking plaster solutions that will only have a temporary effect until a) the money runs out and b) the massive debts have to be repaid.

After this disaster, paradoxically - as with the aftermath of the 2007/8 financial crash "soft" issues will probably fall down to the bottom of the political food chain, like:

  • Sustainable development
  • Climate change
  • Human rights
  • Refugees

So all these time-bombs will still be waiting in the wings.

Travel agents, however have a big  and sustainable opportunity NOW - and the key to unlocking your opportunity is your speed in following the market, identifying and fulfilling its needs IMMEDIATELY.

These needs will be:

  • Value
  • Real safety
  • Uncrowds
  • Security

The mega organisations are stuck in their ruts. They can't move or change quickly. Cruise itineraries are set, airline schedules too. Same with the big OTAs - their focus is expansion. Real change challenges them. It costs not only money.

So, if you are not chained to your assets, your systems, your MO or your market, for you change is a real opportunity. You can move quickly and independently to capture your goal.

What ARE these opportunities?

  • Because the general public will be wary of crowded places they will likely shun air and cruise travel for a while yet. This, plus the necessity to make profit, pay back loans, deal with lower occupancy rates and load factors will increase prices. So help them to find different ways of travelling!
  • Destinations that are different and previously unknown will become more saleable and there are thousands - you know they are not crowded, plus you could know them better than any other agent if you research. You can also impress your clients with your unique knowledge and your unique offer! Remember - the bulge mass tourism of the last few years meant that 99.9% of tourists went to 0.01% of destinations - just think what an opportunity that represents.
  • Slow travel - once upon a time getting there was an exciting and romantic part of the holiday. Make it so again! And extend the length of stay. Train travel can be romantic too if you choose the right train. Car travel also. And stop en route, why not? Set some special eating spots. Make it unique to your particular clients. Help them to chill out. Help them to enjoy holistically and safely.
  • Your relationship with your client needs to be strong before, during and after their trip. The days will be gone when you are just a middle stop delivering a commodity. Your own imprint needs to be apparent on each bit of their arrangement. To deliver all that will be a journey for you too - an exciting and different journey. But you won't be without friends. There will be plenty of uncrowded destinations that would just love to deal with you; plenty of experience operators that would like your business; plenty of guides that really prefer small numbers rather than massive groups.
  • Plus plenty of finance available for startups with new ideas for a new situation.

So move now, research, research, research and you'll carve out a truly MASSIVE lucrative and sustainable niche for yourself.


Valere is CEO of Best of Romagna and author of 'You Lucky People' the story of travel - the world's most delightful and devastating industry. Find out more about it HERE

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