Pandemic Could Shift Bookings To Travel Advisors: Visit Florida CEO

Dana Young, CEO, Visit Florida.
Dana Young, CEO, Visit Florida.

As travellers struggled to navigate supplier and government policy revisions that were changing at lighting speed early in the pandemic, Visit Florida’s CEO Dana Young says there may be an opportunity for travel advisors to gain back some of the booking share from DIY Florida travellers post-pandemic.

“There is a lot of safety and security in using travel agents. This past year, people who planned their own vacations definitely had difficulties navigating the refund system with hotels, and airlines, and cruises and so forth. With the travel agent, you get an ambassador that can look out for your interests and help navigate those difficult challenges. I think that for a lot of people, they may opt to pay a little extra and have that peace of mind to know that they have someone that is looking out for their interests,” Young told Open Jaw during a call last week.

“Although many Canadians feel very much at home here in Florida, or they own second homes, I think that agents could use the same selling points that they would utilize for a European or Latin American vacation for Florida.” 

For the first time, Canadian travel advisors participated in Visit Florida’s Huddle trade show, which ran last week from 08-12FEB. Young hopes agents were able to learn about the Sunshine State that would help them showcase their value to clients even more. 

“Travel agents got a firsthand view of some of the premier off-the-beaten path destinations that we’re encouraging Canadians to visit so, really, travel advisors are going to know more about Florida than some Floridians and they can pass that information along to their clients,” Young said.

“And it is just the beginning of the conversation, because as we develop relationships with our travel agent partners in Canada, we’re able to build on these relationships going forward.”

Florida Travel Trends: Multigen & Off-The-Beaten Path

Nature-based and outdoor activities have long been top marketing points for Visit Florida and now, as travellers increasingly seek these experiences post-pandemic, the emphasis on open-air and off-the-beaten path is even stronger.

“Since I came on board at Visit Florida two years ago, there has been a heavy emphasis on off- the-beaten path, outdoor activities and I think this year, it coincided perfectly with our existing messaging. With the pandemic, people are only going to travel when they feel safe and comfortable and these outdoor activities allow a tremendous amount of freedom and safety just in their very nature,” Young said.

Multigenerational travel is another Florida trend for advisors to bear in mind.

“We all have experienced during this pandemic the loss of connection with our siblings, our older relatives, maybe close family friends, so it just makes sense that a wonderful way to reconnect is through a multigenerational vacation when travel is able to resume again,” Young said. “And because we have such a large inventory of resort properties that can accommodate large groups or vacation rentals, we are uniquely positioned to be able to offer a very safe and wonderful experience for multigenerational groups.”

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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