Air strikes ‘a hassle’ for travel agents

Almost 80% of travel agents confirmed the recent Aer Lingus dispute and French air traffic control strike had a negative impact on business.

A study by the Irish Travel Agents Association (ITAA) found the majority of its members reported having to spend a large amount of time and resources re-accommodating affected customers.

The quarterly ITAA survey also revealed families remain the top buyers in the travel market for summer 2014, followed by business travellers, young couples, and groups of Leaving Certificate students and college friends.

Business travel bookings showed a strong increase in the second quarter of the year, with 92% of corporate travel agents reporting bookings remained the same (50%) or increased (42%).

Travel agents’ customers also demonstrated loyalty to their local branches with repeat business, of 63%, in the second quarter of 2014.

Overall, the ITAA survey found 2014 continues to be a positive year for the sector with 52% of agents reporting an increase in turnover for the second quarter of the year, compared to 2013, and 19% saying that turnover matched previous years.

Pat Dawson, the chief executive of the ITAA, said the industry is moving in the right direction.

“It’s great to see such strong forward momentum within the travel industry, the strong customer retention figures and the increases in both bookings and turnover for the second quarter of 2014 show that the sector is successfully adapting to meet the changing needs of their customers,” he said.

ITAA president Martin Skelly said recent actions by Aer Lingus crew and French air traffic controllers were “a hassle” but the extra level of care provided by travel agents was what sustained them during tough economic times.

“That extra level of care is an inherent part of the service we provide — it’s what sets us apart from faceless travel providers and it’s something that we are very proud of,” he added.


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