Writing from the future, Anthony Goldman, the Joint Managing Director of Virtuoso-affliated Goldman Group, pens a letter in LATTE on the post-pandemic travel rebound.
1 August 2022
I can’t believe how busy we all are. OMG. We haven’t stopped in weeks. We must have done over 200 departures to Europe over the last 5 weeks across our Group. Crazy times.
The vaccine programs were successful. So much of the world’s population is done – and the Virus has slowed down. It’s not all gone yet, but cases are very low across the world. There are some countries that still need to be completed – it’s slow in places.
People became more confident once the Australian Government agreed to open some international borders. New Zealand was first last year, then Fiji and some other Pacific Islands. Clients were so excited and made bookings immediately. All age groups – young and old. We heard from Clients we hadn’t heard of for many many months. They all got sick of their holiday homes – so wanted to escape. There was a mad rush at the Passport office. So many people lost their passports and so many expired. Waiting times are up to 7 weeks now.
A green-shoot was our clients explored their own backyard here in Australia. Some had never explored Australia and they loved it.
Our team is, for the most, back together. Some chose to look for other work last year. They just couldn’t wait which is fair enough. We were so very sad to see them go but remain in contact so when they are ready to return, we are there for them. The industry has lost many experienced and solid travel people. I already know of some, including our team, who have returned in the last couple of months which is so wonderful to see!
Our cruise bookings are strong. Our clients who cruise have been chomping at the bit to get back onboard their favourites. We really noticed a massive spike towards the end of last year – people started booking more – and using their credits. The 2022 European summer is almost full. There were amazing offers available in the market, so Aussies have taken full advantage of that!
One thing which is very apparent is that travellers want to use a travel advisor. They have needed us more than ever to guide them. It got sooo complicated when countries started to open. And we had all the answers. We continue to help them with changing airline, hotel, and cruise policies.
We have seen a 20-25% increase in business during this period, compared to June-September 2019, before the pandemic. A mix of existing clients booking and spending more and new referral clients. We don’t advertise. We grow our business on word-of-mouth referrals. We are thankful to our clients who referred their friends and family to our agencies.
Here are some other highlights from the last 6 months:
- The Vaccine “e-passport” has worked a treat. Airlines won’t uplift passengers without their vaccine proof. It’s so easy and now some countries are looking at converting all passports to e-format.
- Qantas’ Project Sunrise flights started 4 weeks ago. The direct Sydney to NYC flights are all booked out – and our clients are loving it.
- Our preferred hotel partners have really risen to the opportunity to host our clients on their return to travel. Our clients are loving connecting with hotel managers on arrival, the special amenities we arrange and the VIP treatment they have always loved.
- I am heading to Virtuoso Travel Week in Las Vegas next week. Can’t wait to connect with all our partners!
Anthony, I am overjoyed we are back doing what we love to do. We were starved of our passion for two long years. We were denied our livelihood, incomes and opportunity to do what we do as travel professionals. We, suppliers, industry associations and fellow travel advisors, supported each other through the tough times – and we are now back better than ever – told you so!
Keep well, and just remember to wash those hands 😀