Travel Agents Are Key To Reducing Cancellations During ‘Disruptive’ Events, USTOA Reportsby Jessica Montevago /
Travel agents are one of the most trusted sources of information during an emergency, and play a key role in reducing cancellations rates of nervous customers, says a new study by the United States Tour Operators Association (USTOA).
The report, conducted by Research Now, polled 300 travelers potentially visiting an area affected by a “disruptive event” such as an infectious disease, terrorist attacks or natural disaster.
These events could cause cancellation rates between 20% and 40%—unless a “reliable source” steps in to help clarify information for them. The top three such reliable sources are the U.S. State Department, travel agents and tour operator companies, the study found.
“It’s interesting–although not surprising–that travel agents, with whom our members work so closely, ranked high among travelers, and it reconfirms the value travel agent partners bring to our members,” said Terry Dale, USTOA president and CEO. “Maintaining open dialogue with travel agents is vital.”
Respondents were asked if they would travel to an area after a negative event; 31% responded no, but of those, one-third said they would go ahead if they received information that it was safe to travel from a reliable source.
Communication is key
While communication strategies vary depending on the disruptive event, travel agents always are at the top of the list.
- For an infectious disease, the best delivery method is email, first via tour operator, followed by travel agents.
- Should a terrorist attack occur nearby, the most effective communication method is speaking directly with travel agents, and secondly, via email from the tour operator.
- In case of a natural disaster, clarifying information should first be sent through an agent, the study says, followed by the tour operator.