Complexities in post-lockdown travel are driving more Singaporeans to rely on travel agents to fulfil their near-term vacation dreams, found agency representatives.
Speaking to TTG Asia at the NATAS Holidays 2022 travel fair that opened this morning, Jeremiah Wong, spokesperson for Chan Brothers Travel, said the company is seeing a rise in millennial customers taking up group tours for the first time.
“Pre-Covid, this segment of travellers usually planned their holidays independently. With travel arrangements today more complex than before, they are hesitant about travelling free and easy, and have chosen to book with us for peace of mind. This is especially so for millennials looking to take their parents on holiday with them,” said Wong, adding that multi-generational travel is also on the rise, as customers turn to travel as a means of familial bonding after two years of social distancing.
The strong shift in independent travellers to group tours is also “because for certain destinations, like Japan, FIT is not an option”.
Super Travels Group has also seen a rise in new customers taking up group tours, shared marketing manager William Huang, particularly for Japan which currently restricts inbound tourism to approved tour groups.
To cater to this once-independent traveller segment, Super Travels Group works more free time into programmes in Japan. Travellers are able to explore an attraction or area on their own while still under the guidance of a tour manager, and regroup at a set time and location with other fellow travellers.
“More customers are realising that there is greater comfort when booking with a travel agency now. If anything were to happen before or during their trip, they have an agent to rely on. Travel continues to be complex now,” remarked Kelly Toh, head of department (marketing) with CTC Travel.
Addressing an industry audience at the opening ceremony of NATAS Holidays 2022, Singapore’s minister of state Alvin Tan said travel agents are the “lubricants of global travel today”, underscoring the important role these specialist advisors play in rebuilding travellers’ confidence and facilitating smoother travel.
Chan Brothers’ Wong believes that customers who have never experienced a group tour pre-pandemic may be surprised by the advantages of hassle-free arrangements.
“Group tours are no longer just one stop after another in quick succession. We have made changes to our group tour programmes – they are longer in duration to include more free time and opportunities for deeper immersion in the featured destinations,” he said.
He added: “This is an opportunity for consumers to experience what a group tour is like, if they’ve never considered it before, and be converted.”