More people believe their traveling plans to travel agents, leading to more physical stores being open on UK high streets, despite the rise of online booking platforms recorded in the post-pandemic times.
According to an article by Euronews, the travel agent companies such as Trailfinders enhanced their physical presence by opening more stores in 2020- such as those in Winchester and Solihull, followed by York and Cheltenham in 2021. By the end of the summer, Trailfinders is expected to have 44 stores in the UK, SchengenVisaInfo.com reports.
“We had a record year in 2019, and we’re currently beating that. Basically, it has gone back to a much higher demand than pre-pandemic,” Nikki Davies told Euronews Travel in September 2022.
However, the reason why travelers are leaning towards travel agencies is that their confidence in traveling again has dropped, especially after lockdowns, canceled plans due to the pandemic, airport chaos caused by staff shortages and strikes, as well as general uncertainty.
Thus, they want the security net, as Nikki pointed out, with travel agencies providing just that. The security revolving around this matter includes refunds, as some people struggled to get their money back during the pandemic. On the other hand, travel agents claim they can refund travelers within 24 hours.
General Manager at Flight Center UK, Liz Mathews, pointed out that alongside the real appetite of people to travel, there is a nervousness regarding whom they can trust with their travel plans.
Flight Centre, unlike Trailfinders, has experienced a drop in its number of stores, and there are plans to reduce the network by nearly 60 per cent and rather focus on home workers who can answer calls.
In general, holidaymakers now allocate a part of their budget to travel agencies, as those offer a better service than what they can get by booking online.
On the other hand, travelers from the EU, especially those in France, remain loyal to booking via online travel platforms. A total of 42 million bookings were recorded between 2019 and 2021, representing one of the most booked countries for this period.
The Oxford Economics analysis of the European tourism market reveals that France booked the greatest number of overnight stays during this period – a total of 30 million, followed by Spain and Germany with 27- and 23-million-night stays, respectively.
Nearly 44 per cent of the rooms booked in short-term rentals in the EU between 2017 and 2021 for six European countries were made via an online travel agency, such as Expedia and Booking.com.