A year and a half ago, unthinkably, and abruptly, the world stopped.
I have always loved travel. The freedom it gives and how it allows us to celebrate the best that our planet has to offer. Prior to the pandemic, my wife and I lived in Singapore and spent most weekends away on various beaches and islands in Southeast Asia. In February 2020 however, borders started closing and we found ourselves forced to return to the UK.
Travel has always been my default. If I’d had some good news, I’d book a holiday to celebrate. If I was feeling down, I’d plan a trip to commiserate. It was also something I took completely for granted. It was a shock, therefore, when very quickly it was no longer possible. At all.
COVID has had a terrible impact throughout the world with countless industries affected. The travel industry was one of the worst affected – the first to close and probably one of the last to fully reopen – and almost overnight it was brought to a complete standstill.
Many of my travel industry friends and colleagues have struggled, with some facing redundancy. Despite the adversity, it was amazing to see how positive my industry colleagues have remained, and none more so than our franchisees at The Holiday Franchise Company.
Borders have been closed and opened; countries were added and removed from the red (and amber, and green…) lists; and bookings were amended, amended again and then amended again! Our franchisees at The Holiday Franchise Company, however, have remained positive in the face of the never-ending barrage of knockbacks. Not content with sitting idle while sales were slow, they have attended countless training sessions, ensuring their knowledge was better than ever for when travel returned.
At head office, we have kept busy too, creating and hosting these training sessions with over 50 different suppliers, Facebook, Google Ads, supplier guides, agent portals, insurance, accounting, gift vouchers and IT security, to name just a few. In addition, we built a brand-new e-learning platform in which to house our existing and new training material.
We are also incredibly proud to have started a valuable partnership with the mental health organisation, Everymind. This has allowed us to provide mental wellbeing support to our franchisees during this incredibly tough time.
Personally, without travel being possible, I took up (and subsequently gave up) various fads. I am officially the world’s worst homemade pasta maker, and my garden makeover venture – last touched in approximately June – remains half finished. I have missed travel so much but spending a lot more time in the UK did make me appreciate travel more and realise that it was something I had previously taken for granted. Travel makes you appreciate the world but staying home makes you appreciate travel.
This sentiment is very much reflected in the general population. In the history of the travel industry, there has never been more pent-up demand and our franchisees are selling a product which practically everyone is desperate for at the moment.
I am delighted to say that travel is back. October has been one of The Holiday Franchise Company’s best ever months in franchisee sales and several of the members in our group have achieved over £100k in sales this month.
With all countries officially removed from the government’s no fly lists, consumer confidence is returning, and customers are booking again. While undoubtedly there will be further bumps in the road ahead, the light at the end of the tunnel is getting bigger and brighter.
I am also back to travelling finally, with flights to Malta later this month marking my first trip abroad in nearly two years. I have never been more excited to see an airport!
There has never been a better time to start a travel business, get in touch if you would like to know more!