I love the movie The Incredibles. The story is about a family of superheroes that unite to save the world. Elastigirl is the mom character, her superpower is her incredible flexibility. With the uncertainty in the travel industry over the past couple of years, travel planners have had to become super flexible. True to form, travel professionals have rallied against adverse conditions, and have created some new practices to help grow their businesses in these ever-changing times.
Keeping apprised of destination availability and regulations is a skill that allows travel planners to be flexible for clients. The tumultuous climate has resulted in travelers waiting until the last minute to make their travel plans. To accommodate the shorter booking window, planners have frequently had to research and create multiple options to be at the ready for clients.
One travel option loaded with flexibility is a hub and spoke style tour. As the name implies, hub and spoke tours have a centralized lodging option with opportunities to enjoy regional attractions and activities planned throughout the stay. Tour operators offering hub and spoke tours need to have a deep knowledge of the destination and a large number of local contacts to customize the travel experience based on the client’s interests. This format of travel is beneficial for travelers looking to immerse themselves in a new area and culture. Smaller groups are ideal for hub and spoke tours that can include destinations off-limits to larger tours.
Trip-stacking is a new term defined as booking multiple trips at a time for travelers who have targeted dates for their vacation. This practice is possible because of the increasingly flexible cancellation policies that have come out of the pandemic. For example, a travel planner may consider booking a destination with a 30-day cancellation policy and an alternate with a shorter seven-day window. If one of the trips is being impacted by world events, travel advisors have the option to postpone or cancel one trip, while selling the other. To be successful, trip-stacking requires diligence and a lot of client communication throughout the process to allow the client to make an informed decision about the trip they choose. The benefit of trip-stacking is that it helps build a pipeline for travel advisors. For travelers it demonstrates the value of working with an advisor and guarantees they have a place to go on vacation.
The complexity of planning travel has emphasized the relevance of travel advisors. Travelers are looking for a trusted expert to understand the market and offer peace of mind along with a terrific escape. Tour operators offering flexible plans are the superheroes that are answering the call!