Asata ceo, Otto de Vries, told GBTA members at a webinar on July 29 that he expected the travel industry to shrink fundamentally as a direct result of COVID-19.
“Using the term ‘bloodbath’ would not be an over statement,” said Otto, describing the state of the travel agent industry and the issues that Asata members were currently facing. There is still nothing to sell, there is very little demand and there are no revenues coming in.
“Travel agents are working without any financial reward to support customers in managing everything from airline policies to refunds and cancellations. They also have to manage the huge task of working through the myriad of information constantly coming in every day.
“Retrenchments are the reality and many businesses are realising that they are going to need a lot fewer people than they previously did. If I needed 1 000 people [in my business] today, I can probably do the same work with 200 people going forward,” said Otto.
Otto expects to see fewer independent Iata-accredited agents because of the challenges involved with retaining those licences.
Asata has revised its strategy for its members from crisis mode to recovery and will host a virtual travel summit in early August. Among the themes to be discussed was the readiness of the market and what the new customer looked like, said Otto.