For some Online Travel Agencies the Covid-19 pandemic of 2020 has been the death knell for the business model as online buying went from boom to bust in just a few short months. Bucket sellers of cheap airline tickets were soon out business as destinations closed for arrivals and departures. Consumers could no longer in most case 'book their own' as flights continued to be cancelled and airlines phone lines went unanswered as did requests for refunds.
Full service OTA's and travel agents were again seen with respect by the public as they worked to re-route, refund, and rearrange millions of flights for customers. The 'cheap ticket' bucket shops for flights were soon to collapse or be found lacking for customer support.
@Future.Travel we worked 24/7 for many months getting peoples travel plans sorted out during the first 6 months of 2020. Meanwhile our online search volumes for ticketing continued to fall. Today, 10 months after the first lockdowns for travel began, we are at 1% of normal for searches and bookings. There is however a silver lining to this dark cloud.
As the downturn came for online sales, the full service side of the Future.Travel agency picked up with customers who needed the support of a human travel agent to navigate the airline and country restrictions for travel. Corporate fliers who previously 'booked' their own flights discovered having an agent on-side paid off in lower time and cost savings as companies and employees faced increased 'cashflow losses' as paid tickets were not able to be used or refunded, or had restriction/processes that were consuming the company time and funds.
For Future.Travel the full service side of the agency continues to grow as we work with customers to repatriate them to their home countries, or arrive to a new destination for work or family reunion. We work with private individuals, companies, and investors to assist them in the process to allow them to travel both into and out of Vietnam, as well as between other countries around the world. 80% of the travel restrictions in place around the can be managed through proper process to allow for business or repatriation travel. The other 20% of the travel restrictions often come back to the ability to find connecting flights into or out of a country that are authorised to carry passengers.
Each country has its own rules for Covid-19 travel and quarantine. A full service Online Travel Agency or travel agent like Future.Travel allows the business community to move again for essential travel. It is navigating the rules and having an insiders view of availability that makes travel possible these days. Happy to say we love our work and helping people.