December is a magical month. It gives us the chance to pause and reflect on how much we’ve accomplished while allowing us the opportunity to look forward to the year ahead, full of possibilities.
Independent by Flight Centre (IFC) decided to pose a few questions to our advisors as we prepare to close the chapter on 2022 and begin to write a new one for 2023.
What was the greatest challenge your business faced in 2022?
Many of our advisors agreed that the resurgence of travel was ironically one of the biggest challenges for them. As Caitlin Lajeunesse shares, “the biggest challenge was managing the perfect storm of an abundance of bookings, while dealing with the inability to contact our supplier partners in an appropriate amount of time for certain situations like changes to bookings, corrections, and general questions.” Julie Smigadis agrees. “The resurgence was wonderful. However, many of our suppliers and airlines were unprepared for the volume, resulting in many hours on hold, which made it difficult for us to our jobs effectively.” Suppliers’ commitment to upstaffing as quickly as possible as well as introducing innovative self-serve online tools helped address these concerns.
What is a lesson the pandemic taught you about your business and did you make any changes as a result?
The response to this was unanimous: “Know your worth and be comfortable with charging fees!” Sarah Dayman implemented fees after coming to the realization that the amount of work and effort she was putting in wasn’t matching the return she received. She has also become more selective with her clients. “I qualify my clients as to the type of travel that they want and only take on the bookings that are within my specialty. I refer opportunities that don’t fit to other agents accordingly.”
Several advisors shared that they have moved to a “by appointment only” model, allowing them to better plan their week. This allows for time each day to research, finish paperwork, respond to inquiries, training etc. Having set appointment hours has allowed them to elevate the level of service they provide.
Have you noticed any changes in clients’ buying or travel habits?
Michael Michel shares that with the relaxation of restrictions his clients aren’t waiting to fulfill their ‘bucket list’ destinations. “I am booking a lot of interesting destinations, and complicated trips for people these days.” It’s a trend Jonathan Nelson sees as well. “People are taking a YOLO approach when it comes to travel. I have noticed that my clients are asking a lot more questions prior to booking.” A sentiment other advisors echo with a greater number of clients purchasing insurance while asking specific questions about change and cancellation policies.
What are you most hopeful about for travel in 2023?
2022 saw IFC agents making travel dreams come true, helping clients travel to Qatar, Antarctica, Iceland, and Bolivia. One advisor helped her clients navigate three rebookings of a multi-generational trip to Turks & Caicos. With schedules becoming more consistent and availability increasing with suppliers, the consensus with IFC advisors is that they would like 2023 to continue as 2022 has finished. The top hope among our agents was the same across the board… that THEY get to cross a few of their bucket list destinations off their own list! The New Year is certainly looking bright not only for IFC but for all of travel!