Toronto-based TPI travel agent talks booking trends at Family Travel Xpo: Multi-gen groups are big, and so are villas

 

The groups are big, but the resorts they’re choosing are not. Power says she’s seen a notable trend away from mega-resorts. “People are avoiding the mega resorts,” she says. “People don’t want that 8,000 – 9,000 [guest scene], but 300 – 400 is fine. There are still a lot of requests for villas, anything that’s a little bit more private, but still accessible with amenities. Families want to be in a villa to have that privacy, to have that distance, but they still want those amenities.”

Bell says his multigen and multi-family bookings are skyrocketing too. “A lot of people who had to cancel their trips are rebooking,” he said. “ I think everyone is eagerly ready to celebrate, whether it’s a anniversary, 50th birthday, girls’ getaway … as soon as the borders started to open, the influx has been significant.”

Toronto-based TPI travel agent talks booking trends at Family Travel Xpo: Multi-gen groups are big, and so are villas

Family Travel Xpo with moderator JJ Villani and panellists Garey Bell and Clara Power

Another difference Power is seeing is the need for the highest level of flexibility, when it comes to bookings and cancellation policies. “The biggest question I’ve been getting is flexibility. Before it was, ‘we’re going on this trip no matter what’. Now it’s, what are the terms, what are the conditions? These are the fine-tooth questions that people didn’t ask before. That’s a big shift over the last while.”

Travel insurance is a much more present conversation, especially CFAR (cancel for any reason), added Bell. “We as advisors have had to become a lot more educated on policies,” he said.

‘REFERRALS ARE STILL MY BIGGEST SOURCE OF QUALITY LEADS”

A travel advisor’s skills, knowledge and resources have never been more valued than during the pandemic, and that will continue long after the pandemic is done, as the retail travel industry proves its worth and forges lifelong bonds with clients.

Power says her clients depend on her now more than ever. “I think a lot of people are scared, they’re afraid to make mistakes, and that’s why they’re flooding to travel agents, because they need that helping hand to get through this. It can be overwhelming, it can even for us be overwhelming, because it’s changing every day.”

While Power says referrals are still her biggest source of quality leads, she’s also getting a lot of leads from her Instagram presence, which she has built up with careful planning and strategy. “I do find that my Instagram leads have grown significantly,” she says. “I get a lot of leads from there, pre-COVD but even more so now. And as well, I positioned myself over the past year, year and a half, as that expert on social media, and when people come across it, it’s like man, that person who really knows her stuff. You become that expert.”

Adds Bell: “It’s all referrals. It’s crazy. It’s booking one trip for someone who has a huge network and it’s just a domino effect. Some repeat, clearly, but those clients share with someone else, they post on social media. I do ask my clients if they’re taking a trip and they’ve had a great experience to share that online, and most are happy to do so, and it’s crazy. The minute those things go live … opportunities are just nonstop.”

 

1,000+ ATTENDEES AT THE FAMILY TRAVEL XPO

According to Dean Jacobberger, Vice President, XpoPRO Mobile, there were over 1,000 registered attendees for the Family Travel Xpo. “The show is live and available on demand for the next 30 days at www.familytravelxpo.com,” says Jacobberger.

Overall the event was a success, he says, adding that agents were excited to attend and shared lots of positive feedback: “Thank you for this brilliant expo!”- Georgia Bryden, R & G Travel Services; “I have got a lot from this. Great ideas for family requests” – Cindy Huckins, A.C.T.I Travel; “I learned so very much attending this and am very excited to be able to pass what I learned along to my clients” – Matt Brown, Voltaire Travels.

Asked about the key takeaway from the Family Travel Xpo, Jacobberger had this to say: “Family Travel is ready to make a rebound, as restrictions are lessening, more and more destinations are ready to welcome families back! Travel agents and advisors are excited and ready to sell more family travel, and the Xpo gave them many great takeaways to help them do so. Learning from their peers during the Family Travel Trends breakout session was one of the most popular takeaways.”

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