It’s the day everyone’s been waiting for: as travel agents in Northern Ireland can once more open their doors, one of Belfast’s top agencies is welcoming back customers after seeing a boom in holiday bookings as lockdown eases. Barrhead Travel’s Belfast branch – opened their doors for the first time since last year and the team have been welcoming back customers in person as local holidaymakers rush to book their first post-pandemic getaway.
Over the last year, store manager Kelly Hutchinson and her experienced team have been working remotely, tirelessly supporting customers impacted by Covid-19. Their efforts did not go unnoticed as their branch was recognised in the Top Travel Agency in Northern Ireland category at the prestigious TTG Top 50 industry awards.
Hutchinson said that with the vaccine roll-out and easing of lockdown, people were now feeling more confident about planning their dream holiday for the near future. They are witnessing the release of a massive pent-up demand– with destinations such as Tenerife, Turkey, New York, Orlando and Dubai among the favourites.
Demand for summer 2022 remains the most popular booking season but the Barrhead Travel team noted that bookings for this summer have increased over the last few weeks in tandem with lockdown restrictions easing.
The Barrhead Travel team reported that staycations and UK cruises have been proving popular for late spring bookings as families and friends plan to reunite for their first post-lockdown holiday. For this summer and beyond, demand for foreign holidays has been rising as customer confidence booms following comments from Transport Secretary, Grant Shapps, who confirmed that people can start thinking about booking summer holidays.
Hutchinson said that customer safety and peace of mind remains the number one priority and that customers are increasingly turning to their local travel agencies for advice. Hutchinson also said they had noticed an increase in new customer enquiries, chiming with ABTA’s recent report that one in four holidaymakers now plan to use a reputable travel agent – up from one in five in 2019.
Earlier this year, Barrhead Travel launched their Stress-Free Guarantee which provides holidaymakers with assurances about financial protection, flexible booking options and safety abroad. Barrhead Travel say the guarantee offers a cast-iron pledge to ensure that every single holiday booked is completely protected and offers the best possible flexibility – something that will be key for holidaymakers while travel is still subject to change.
Kelly Hutchinson, Barrhead Travel Belfast Store Manager said: “After so many months of working from home, I am delighted to be reunited with my team in store where we can safely accommodate our wonderful customers who we have missed! The support and well wishes we have received upon the news of opening has been truly heart-warming.
We can’t wait to help plan our customers next getaway, whether that be a staycation in the UK or a bucket list destination overseas. We are back to take care of everything, leaving our customers with complete peace of mind.”