Pandemic Creating Stronger Reliance on Travel Advisors: TICO’s Smart

Richard Smart, CEO, TICO.
Richard Smart, CEO, TICO.

The pandemic is causing a shift in the travel supply chain, which will result in a stronger reliance on advisors once travel gets going again, TICO CEO Richard Smart told the Toronto Star.

The Star spoke with Smart and Will McAleer, executive director at Travel Health Insurance Association of Canada, about what to expect around the future of travel.

Smart says there will be an extreme importance of “knowing what the rules are and what the norms are. Are excursions open? Are they closed? Are there restrictions? Are there additional costs involved?” — all questions travel advisors are experts in answering.

He added that the travel industry has moved from a transaction-oriented business to one where agencies are focused on the consumer experience, and that’s only going to continue in the future.

“That experience from end-to-end, from the time you leave your home, going through the airport, getting on the cruise ship, getting to the destination and vice versa coming back, in a post-pandemic environment it’s all changed so much that … travel professionals (are) all about servicing that experience.”

Additional post-pandemic travel trends include travel insurance becoming “top of mind”, vaccination passports being inevitable and masks and constant hand sanitizing continuing for much longer, Smart and McAleer said.

McAleer added that Canadians should prepare for higher airfares due to “limited inventory.”

“The vaccines haven’t reached some of those destinations, and (the virus) is really not under control,” he said. “As a result, you’re kind of limited in terms of where you might be able to go so higher costs are likely to result.”

McAleer says “extra premium” packages that include trip cancellation policies as add-ons are also likely to become popular.

Anna Kroupina

Journalist

Anna's day starts at 5:30 a.m. each morning to scour daily travel news headlines to find the most relevant stories for Canadian travel advisors. She contributes to writing the daily news and covers events. The Alberta Rockies, Hawaii and France's Provence region are among her favourite destinations. She's a proud cat mom and a terrible snowboarder.

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