TOURISM / The challenges for travel agencies between digital, Covid and war

Hotels almost full, cities of art repopulated with tourists, beaches and mountains taken by storm. An Easter of clear recovery. But… “Our sector is experiencing a long crisis, now worsened by the conflict in Ukraine. The impact on the sector was important and unfortunately will continue to be so this year too.

The consequences for businesses and employees, without further support, will be serious and irreversible ”, says Pier Ezhaya, president of Astoi Confindustria Viaggi (the representation of to and travel agencies). “In the Pnrr – underlined to the Bit Franco Gattinoni, president of Fto (the federation of organized tourism) – for travel agencies and tour operators there is almost nothing, if not an investment in digitalization which provides for a non-repayable doubling of the investment paid, with a cap of 25 thousand euros. For large companies it is an insignificant sum, but for small companies there is not even the possibility of being able to invest “.

In short, if the hospitality of our home can begin to breathe, for agencies it is still deep red. It’s really like this?

The crisis has by no means passed – says Luisa Muraro, founder of L’Impronta viaggi travel group, a well-established Paduan agency that includes TED (travel emotion design) and ITM (Italy travel mood) -. The travel industry, after the pandemic, is extremely dependent on external events. People are very attentive to this and do not indulge in worry-free travel easily. Now we are working for the summer, but we will then have to see in October / November what the geopolitical situation and that linked to Covid can be.

It is said that the work of adv is changing, evolving between technological innovation but also more consideration for human capital, in a close relationship with the customer.

Of course, the work of the travel agent has already changed a lot and continues to do so. The customer, from the pandemic onwards, has become much more technologically demanding and requires much faster and more immediate responses, as they are used to an increasingly ready and instant digital offer. Whatsapp, social media and the use of fast messaging have become the main means of communication, with its pros and cons. It is certainly easier to reach customers of new age groups, but they are also tools that imply a connection and familiarity that often collide with digitally not so ready services and suppliers. However, the way of assisting the travel agent to the customer has also changed. The adv is asked for 360-degree support, with the cumbersome difficulty of fulfilling all the Covid provisions that are constantly updated and different for each destination. Having said that, as far as human capital is concerned, even in our sector we change. More and more often the customer has little time and we only meet him for the delivery of documents, sometimes not even for that. Digital is increasingly transforming “real” reality into virtual reality for us too.

Happy notes, however, for the Easter market …

The signs of recovery they are there, although not at the normal pre-pandemic rhythms. Obviously, he resents what is happening in Ukraine and the economic and psychological consequences that the situation brings to the rest of Europe. So there is recovery, but it is gradual, fluctuating, and aimed only at specific destinations where people can feel safer.

Is outgoing also restarting? On which destinations?

As for outgoing, the requests are currently mainly for Paris and the other European capitals, the Red Sea for the medium range, while for the long range the Maldives and New York, more than for combined or long road tours. . We also work as to, developing tailor-made proposals, both individual and for groups: this is also a way of restarting.

(Alberto Beggiolini)

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