What Travel Advisors Should Be Prepared for in 2024

What Travel Advisors Should Be Prepared for in 2024

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Claudette Covey

Rising rates, wars and national elections are just some of the issues travel advisors should be braced for in the new year, according to agents interviewed by TravelPulse.

“Current incoming travel request trends are already reflecting the upcoming year’s challenges,” said JoAnne Weeks, vacation division director at Acendas Travel. “Traditionally, election years cause clients to pause and do have an effect on business. Throw in two wars and a possible recession and that spells the ingredients to be concerned and to have a plan in place.”

“Beef up your marketing strategies, since most of us chose to step back and not invest in that when the leads were crashing in,” Weeks suggested. “We focused more on simply staying in front of the clients versus ads with a ‘call to action’”.

For her part, VIP Vacations President Jennifer Doncsecz believes that there are many variables that come into play for 2024. “We are seeing requests very last minute for travel, and January/February/March quotes are higher than ever for where we are in mid-December,” she said. “This could be due to personal finances or because of nervousness about ongoing global conflicts.

“The rise in costs over the years for flights – even all-inclusive pricing seems to be higher – could dampen sales. We can already feel that consumers are not prepared for the pricing we are seeing.”

Also, she noted that inflation over the last several years has “definitely taken a toll on the disposable income of many, and although COVID strengthened the importance of taking a vacation, we are not seeing the crazy demand that we saw in 2022. The good news is that we still see space at popular resorts in Caribbean and Mexico for the winter and spring.”

Although Time For Travel President Sarah Kline said she is optimistic about 2024 business, she does “not foresee the fever pitch of travel requests we experienced in the previous two years.”

“I think and hope that this will be a more steady year as prices and demand stabilize,” she said.

Unlike some of her colleagues, Kline said she is “seeing a shift in hotel rates to a more reasonable cost, especially as demand shifts to different areas around the world.”

“While we are seeing an enormous surge in requests to Europe and many bucket-list destinations, demand is still strong in the Caribbean and Mexico,” she said. “I think this is stemming from travelers worried about the situations in the Middle East, Russia and Asia.”           

Meanwhile, James Berglie, owner of Be All-Inclusive, said he is witnessing a slight slowdown in the “fun-and-sun” market and believes “it’s just leveling off to normal levels.”

“However, for weddings, our team continues to see growth,” he said. “I’m not sure how much of it is industry growth versus market share growth, but our team continued to hit records in 2023 and is tracking 2024 to do even better.

“We are not seeing outside factors impact things too much at this time. However, if anything, it would be the economy and inflation in general, as couples are growing more aware of what they are asking their guests to spend to attend their weddings. That said, inflation on weddings in the US continues to make a destination wedding the cheapest possible option for couples in comparison, which is why we continue to grow.”

Like Berglie, Lainey Melnick, franchise owner of Dream Vacations – Lainey Melnick & Associates, is poised to exceed 2023 booking numbers. “I am expecting 2024 to continue the record-breaking surge in travel. My own sales are up 82 percent year over year, from 77 percent the prior year,” she said. “The biggest obstacle we will have in 2024 is availability.”

All things considered, Kline believes the biggest issue in travel currently is the airline industry. “While hotels and destinations are very customer-service focused and supportive of the travel professional community the airlines seem to be just the opposite,” she said.

What concerns Sunsational Beach Vacations President Tom Brussow is the prospect of suppliers going director to consumers. While I remain generally optimistic [about 2024], my biggest concern moving forward is that suppliers, to whom we have been loyal, will aggressively continue to try and tilt the field toward consumer-direct bookings and away from travel advisors and tour operators,” he said.

“The airlines are already a lost cause, and we continue to see hotel companies employ a variety of tactics to capture direct business away from advisors with aggressive advertising, member rates, proprietary inventory, vacation clubs, timeshares, and customer loyalty programs that exclude most advisor-generated bookings.”

Regardless of the challenges ahead, there’s no disputing that travel has become a priority for many consumers. “The pandemic created a change in lifestyle and priorities in Americans that won’t easily revert,” Melnick said. “Now people know the value of independence and freedom and want to experience everything with urgency. There is a feeling that if not now, then that opportunity can be stripped away.”


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