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Travel Agents Will Emerge As Heroes: Bruce Poon Tip, G Adventures

One year on since the world’s borders closed, G Adventures has revealed its future travel trends with founder Bruce Poon Tip saying that after any massive disruption to travel, be it a pandemic or a tsunami, travel agents always emerge as heroes.

“Lockdowns and border closures have fuelled the desire to travel, travel agents will emerge from the pandemic as heroes, demand for purpose-led, milestone holidays is at an all-time high, and the cost of travel will rise, but only in the mid-term.” Says G Adventures founder Bruce Poon Tip.

These trends and predictions were revealed last week by Mr Poon Tip, as he marked the one-year anniversary of the world’s borders closing.

Poon Tip also addressed what has changed in the year since he launched his ‘instabook’ Unlearn: The Year the Earth Stood Still, a love letter to travellers about what travel could look like on the other side of this pandemic. 

Leaning on his more than 30 years of experience in the industry as a pioneer of community tourism, Poon Tip says he believes the industry has ‘hit the bottom’ and for the first time can start to look forward.

Lockdowns have made people want to travel more

Bruce Poon Tip

All signs are pointing towards a quick rebound for travel with 46%* of Aussie and Kiwi travellers saying lockdowns have made them want to travel more than ever before.

As a result, pent-up demand is rapidly building with 80% of people yet to book their next international holiday, and 28% indicating they are happy to book a holiday less than one month in advance. 

Additionally, 23% of travellers who are waiting to be vaccinated to travel say they will travel within three months of being vaccinated, rising to 36% for travel within six months of receiving a COVID-19 inoculation, meaning there could be a flurry of bookings as and when vaccines roll out. 

Travel agents will emerge as heroes

Famil Wrap
G Adventures Microfam, Eureka Skydeck, Melbourne

Speaking specifically to travel agency partners, Poon Tip said that after any massive disruption to travel, be it a pandemic or a tsunami, travel agents always emerge as heroes. 

“The value of the travel agent is always seen. Travel agents are advocates for their customers – they became even more relevant during this time. The most important thing we can do is educate customers to travel differently on the other side, and travel agents have huge power to do this.

“It’s an exciting time for travel. We have the opportunity to build back differently. Where we were before this pandemic struck isn’t where we should have been as an industry – why fight to get back to normal? Normal wasn’t so great,” says Poon-Tip.

Demand for purpose-led, milestone holidays is at an all-time high

Peru Sacred Valley Ccaccaccollo, Women’s Weaving Co-op Local Women Female Travellers

According to G Adventures’ latest survey, Aussie and Kiwi travellers are hungry for travel and ready to go, but they are also becoming more conscious in terms of where their money goes.

‘Milestone holidays’ and ‘bucket list’ trips are high on the travel agenda, but travellers want to be more purposeful with their holiday choices and to know where their money is going with 73% of Australian and New Zealand travellers wanting their money to benefit local people.

Once-in-a-lifetime trips are attracting a lot of attention, including high-profile hiking tours like Mt Kilimanjaro, Everest Base Camp and the Inca Trail, with 23% of travellers saying they were keen to take an Active tour when they can get back out in the world. Additionally, 42% of people want to head out in nature, presumably as an antidote to lockdown fatigue. 

Travel will get more expensive, but only in the mid-term

Jordan Wadi Rum Desert Rock

When asked whether he thinks travel will become more expensive post-pandemic, Poon Tip believes it will be cheaper in the short and long term, but in the mid-term prices will rise.

Noting how travel suppliers are offering discounts and added flexibility at first to get people to book travel again, he believes prices will see a spike in the mid-term once the industry eventually hits its stride.

However, this is nothing to worry about as he expects the booking climate to even out and stabilise in the long-term.

In summarizing the current state of travel Poon Tips says there are lots of indicators that can be taken as positive signs for the future of travel as we re-emerge from this pandemic. 

Bruce Poon Tip, Peru Machu Picchu G for Good Trip

“People are becoming more purposeful about where they want to go, and they are thinking about why they want to go to a destination rather than thinking about the amenities. It just takes a few people to make a huge difference.”

Bruce Poon Tip, founder G Adventures

“There has been more change during March than any other month since the pandemic hit. Now we can see the light. Countries are trying hard to open their borders and there is a positive feeling right now – plus consumers are talking about travelling again which is also what we need. 

“At G Adventures we have always embraced change, but change is hard. For the first time, travellers are open to change and, as an entrepreneur, that is really exciting for me,” he says.

*The survey results were based on 4,917 responses from G Adventures global consumer panel, including 613 Australians and New Zealanders. The survey was in-field from February 10 – 15, 2021.