Host agencies say more members are signing up, but will this lead to increased competition?

Host agencies say there are more members but will this lead to increased competition?

TORONTO — At a time when global travel has ground to a virtual halt, some may think there’d no longer be a need for travel advisors. But of course the exact opposite is true, says host agencies. With an uptick in memberships being seen across the board, Canada’s travel agent community is not only surviving the COVID-19 health crisis, it may actually be thriving.

The Travel Agent Next Door, Independent by Flight Centre, Nexion Travel Group-Canada, TravelOnly, Travel Professionals International (TPI) and Vision Travel are all reporting increased membership numbers in recent months despite the ongoing pandemic, from both new-to-industry professionals and experienced advisors looking to branch out with their own travel business.

But with more members and still very few bookings coming in, this begs the question: are there enough clients to sustain a bigger pool of advisors?

Colton Chia, Director of Partnerships at TPI, which has seen an 11% increase in new advisors over 2019, agrees that there’ll be more competition among its members but at the same time, he believes that the market of new clients looking to work with a travel advisor is growing now that the pandemic has shown the extent of their services.

“These new advisors cite some of the positive industry trends we are seeing as reasons to join, such as the growing pent-up demand for travel and the increased propensity for travellers to use a travel advisor as a trusted resource and dedicated personal contact in the new travel environment,” says Chia.

Mike Foster, President of Nexion Travel Group-Canada, agrees that despite an uptick in new members, the inevitable increase in demand for travel advisors post-pandemic will balance out any perceived competition.

“Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, there was much concern about ‘the graying of the travel industry.’ Business finds its own equilibrium. If there are too many travel advisors, some will leave the industry; but if there are too few, we will attract more people,” he says.

To read the full article, check out the Dec. 10 issue of Travelweek here.