Agents say travelers are taking higher costs in stride
S ome clients are opting to fly to
a resort where they won’t need to rent a car.
Continued from Page 37
rail or air products as alternatives to
Debbie Johnson, Heavenly Dreams
Travel, Fort Worth, Texas, said her clients are being more cautious about
vacations, driving or otherwise, and
are “doing their homework.”
“They are checking fares and look-
ing at gas prices before they come in,”
Before the surge in gasoline prices,
many families typically drove from
Texas to California or Florida for Dis-
ney vacations. Today, Johnson said,
they may consider flying, particularly
if they are going to a destination where
they won’t have to rent a car when they
While Johnson said that more people are looking to flying vacations, she
also believes that some may not be
traveling at all because gasoline costs
for their everyday trips have taken a
bite out of their budgets for discretionary expenses such as vacations.
“Some people can’t afford a vaca-
tion now,” she said.
But travel agencies that target affluent consumers are not likely to encounter that thinking. Their clients’
pocketbooks are not affected by higher gasoline prices.
Haisley Smith, director of marketing for Brownell (formerly Brownell
Travel), Birmingham, Ala., said, “
Because we cater to an affluent clientele we don’t see that gasoline prices
have much of an impact. These are
people who will travel regardless.
They are not as price-conscious.
A few extra dollars is not going to
make a difference.”
Ron Hersh, manager of World of
Travel, Columbus, Ohio, said that most
people who use travel agents are at an
economic level that enables them to
travel regardless of higher fuel prices.
“We’ve seen some simply outrageous increases in fuel surcharges
for Europe travel and, in some cases,
prices have doubled. We avoided raising the prices on our groups this year
too much, but next year we expect the
prices to be much higher.
“But I don’t think higher prices will
have an effect. When you tell people
their Rome trip will be $1,599, and
you know that last year it was $1,399,
you find that they are willing to pay.
“To us, it may seem like a big increase. But for someone who doesn’t
have a concept of what prices were before, it doesn’t matter.”
#ALL US AT
TO PLAN YOUR CLIENTS VACATIONS NOW
Everyone knows that the impact of
gasoline prices varies considerably
with geography, but even travel sellers can forget that in some areas of
the country, just getting to the airport can mean saying good-bye to a
tank of gas.
In Modesto, Calif., travelers typi-
cally drive to San Francisco (a two-
hour ride) or Los Angeles (five hours
away) to catch a flight.
Carol McDaniel, Candy’s Carefree Travel, Modesto, said that with
United’s recent start of Modesto-Los
Angeles flights, more people may
choose to fly from Modesto if gas
prices continue to climb.
“It’s a long drive that takes a tank
of gas and perhaps an overnight
stay at San Francisco or Los Ange-
les,” she said.
However, thus far, McDaniel’s cli-
ents are still driving to those airports
and have not curtailed travel.
Meanwhile, the rising cost of gas-
oline has had an impact on travel
At Central Travel, three staffers live
40 miles from the agency. “Gasoline
prices are a big topic of conversation
in our office,” La Scola said. Agents
trade information about service stations with the lowest prices. However, none of the agents has opted to
telecommuting to save money.”