The Whaler at Ka'anapali Beach in Maui, Hawaii (photo by Lauren Bowman)
The travel advisor in today’s world is absolutely critical to the travel industry’s recovery.
“I have heard about the demise of the travel agent since I’ve been in this career, and I’ve been in this business for almost 50 years, and it’s never happened,” said Roger Dow, U.S. Travel Association President & CEO. “I think right now, the travel professional is going to be in more demand than ever because of the complexity of protocols of airfares and all that, so the travel agents that differentiate themselves on being experts and not just booking a single flight are going to flourish because people are all mixed up and they’re looking for a professional to help him through the process.”
Typically, most travel agents and advisors are booking international trips for their clients. However, more and more have been planning domestic travel across the U.S. for their clients.
The pandemic gave way to a rise in U.S. domestic leisure travel, and several Americans relied on their advisors to help navigate where to go and what to do during the pandemic. This led to some advisors needing to connect with U.S. destinations more than they had in the past.
We spoke with several top executives from some of the top destination tourism boards in the U.S. to give them a chance to share their message, appreciation for, or any advice they might have for travel advisors.
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“The future of travel for the Hawaiian Islands is regenerative, going beyond sustainability to malama (care for) our community,” Hawai’i Tourism Authority President & CEO John De Fries said. “As we believe visitors to Hawai‘i want to have a meaningful, enriching experience, we encourage travel advisors to learn more about our various malama-inspired experiences on each island that will enable their clients to have a positive impact while fostering connections with stalwarts of the community who are dedicated to perpetuating Hawaiian culture and restoring our natural resources for generations to come.”
“Well, throughout the pandemic it was that Florida’s a sure bet, it’s never closing down, we will always be here,” Dana Young, Visit Florida President & CEO said. “And now I just echo that in terms of if you come to Florida, you’re going to have a wonderful vacation. We are up and running, we are staffed, we are ready to accept and keep accepting visitors. So come to Florida, you won’t regret it.”
“As we emerge from the pandemic, it is important that travel advisors know how much they are valued and appreciated,” said Fred Dixon, President and CEO, NYC & Company. “One bit of guidance is to seize this moment to reacquaint oneself with dynamic destinations like New York City that have never stopped evolving. Over the past two years, NYC has significantly evolved through reinvention and new development—highlights include major new infrastructure upgrades like the new LaGuardia Airport and Moynihan Train Hall; many new hotels at every level; countless new restaurants and major attractions; and a buzzworthy arts and cultural scene featuring a plethora of groundbreaking major exhibitions. Additionally, NYC & Company is spotlighting the City’s authentic and multicultural experiences to encourage travelers to ‘New York like a New Yorker’ by diving deep into neighborhoods and local experiences which are found here in abundance. The big takeaway is that it’s ‘Always Time for New York City’ and we thank the trade for their support.”
Empire State Building & New York City Skyline (Photo via Lauren Bowman)
“The first advice I would give to travel advisors is to sign up for Orlando Travel Academy,” Casandra Matej, Visit Orlando President & CEO said. “We just relaunched it and re-imagined it in January, so there’s so much new – the aspects of it, watching videos, interacting with our team. I think that’s a good first stop, and you can access that and access more information on Orlando at visitorlando.com. And then lastly, don’t hesitate to reach out to any of the Visit Orlando team – we are here ready and willing to assist you.”
“Well the first thing I would say is honestly just a heartfelt thank you,” said Adam Burke, President & CEO of the Los Angeles Tourism & Convention Board. “The travel advisor community has been so critical to our ability to consistently communicate with customers even all the way through the pandemic, even when people were not traveling. Our international offices and our domestic team were working constantly with the travel trade to make sure they were up to speed on what are the safety protocols – because LA remains very committed to health and safety – what’s open, what can you expect when you come to LA. So, we are just so grateful for the ongoing partnership with the travel trade.”
“So, number one we have a couple of sales individuals that work for the LVCVA, and they operate a website for travel agents to be able to get rewarded,” Fletch Brunelle, Vice President of Marketing and Sales of the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority. “So [I recommend] having them come [visit] and learn more about the destination and also get rewarded.”
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