By Brett Jardine, Managing Director, Council of Australian Tour Operators
AS THE world of travel and tourism reopens, challenges continue to present themselves as we begin to rebuild.
The ‘new normal’ is far from here, and there are a new wave of obstacles for travellers to navigate.
With a seemingly never-ending list of travel credits to be redeemed, many travellers are becoming frustrated at being unable to use their credits due to lack of availability, confusion around T&Cs and difficulty being able to redeem them, due to reduced staff on the other end.
The rest of the world reopened long before Australia did, and has left Australian travellers with itchy feet, having to wait just that bit longer.
The US market for example, has snapped up a lot of 2022 and 2023 capacity whilst Aussie travellers scramble to find a seat on a tour or cabin on a cruise.
The simple message we all need to share with those holding future travel credits, is to plan ahead and book early. Have several options up your sleeve if plan a, b or even c is not possible.
Some operators will be increasingly flexible with their travel credit terms whilst others may be forced to stand firm, due to contracts with end suppliers.
Labour shortages and experience has left our industry dry. It is resulting in lengthy phone wait times, ‘green’ service levels and until international workers return to our shores and cash reserves are replenished, it will take time to re-build.
A phrase used so repetitively at the start of COVID, ‘we are all in this together’ was a mutual understanding across the wider industry of the staffing and service challenges faced — a message that we all need to adopt and share with budding travellers so that people on both sides of the fence understand the complexity of travel credits and frustrations felt by consumers.