The travel industry was one of the first to be hit by Covid-19, but local travel agents say that the pandemic has proven their worth.
Independent travel agent Kelly Bowater says that brokers worked hard during the lockdown to get refunds for clients who were left in the lurch after international travel came to a standstill.
“Suddenly it was gone. We had the rug ripped out from under our clients, and that’s been ripped out from under us.”
Travel brokers like Kelly worked full time during the lockdown for next to nothing, cancelling, refunding, and working with carriers to try and get money back for clients.
“Our business was completely taken away from us.”
But Kelly says that the experience proves just how worthwhile travel agents and brokers are.
“To our clients, we have proven that we are worth it.”
Kelly says there was a lot of stress involved for those who booked individually and were faced with the task of trying to get refunds.
“I’m not putting down booking yourself on the internet, but as brokers we are professionals and we are here to support people in those tricky situations.”
Owner and operator of House of Travel Richmond, Amanda Radovanovich, says that travel agents played a big role in getting Kiwis who were stranded overseas back home when Covid-19 swept the globe.
“We were really busy helping people just get home.
“We have had so many people say to us ‘thank god you were there,’ especially with families trying to get children home from Europe and overseas.”
While there was an initial downturn in business, Kelly says that the travel broker industry has proven how valuable it is, and will come out stronger.
“We are here to ride the storm and come out better at the other end.”