With 10% of people in the UK employed within the travel industry and tourism bringing in 9.9% of the country’s GDP, it can be easy to forget that there is much more to travel than just our yearly trips to the continent.
Going into your glass of orange juice from your Spanish breakfast buffet, is work from approximately: one kitchen porter, one waitress, one receptionist, one bus driver, four air stewards, two pilots, three cleaners, one check-in assistant, one salesperson and one content writer. Plus the countless others, from blog writers who inspire you to travel, to groundskeepers who have the place looking every bit as magical as you imagined. Bet you never thought about that, did you?
The truth is, each of these people are tiny cogs of a well-oiled machine, and if one cog falls out of place, the whole machine could break down. Unfortunately, at the moment, a lot of those cogs have stopped spinning, due to COVID-19. Though, one day they will spin again.
In the not so distant future, we’ll feel the sand between our toes, and sip on margaritas ‘til the cows come home, just not quite yet. We’ll be getting up early to head to the airport and rubbing weary eyes at the check-in desk, just not quite yet. We’ll be lying on our hotel beds munching on a packet of crisps, during that strange time between daytime and dinner, just not quite yet. And when you are ready to do all of these things, whether it be in 2020 or five years from now, the integral cogs of the travel industry will be there to provide the one thing that, without them, would be impossible – a holiday.
So, we spoke to the people behind your holidays who are waiting, just like you, for life to go back to some sense of normality. Let’s start where your journey begins, at inspiration.
With remote working becoming more accessible, people around the world are embracing their love of travel and turning it into a career. This is what Julianna did in 2016, when she started her travel blog The Discoveries Of after spending years working as a lawyer in the City. Julianna travels around the world sampling the sights, bites and delights of some of the world’s most impressive destinations, in order to inspire her readers to travel too. But just like everyone else, parts of Julianna’s job have been put on hold for the time being.
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“It has been a real change of pace, because when you are on the road all the time it makes it really hard to create the content, and do all the things that actually help to grow the site. So it’s been good in a way in that I’ve had more time to sit down and write some of the content.”
Julianna told me that the focus of The Discoveries Of readership had massively shifted from step-by-step guides to inspirational pieces and bucket list travels. With so many people stopping to think about life, many are dreaming of the holiday that never was, and have now gone about researching holidays that may be possible when borders reopen. To avoid confusion, Julianna adds disclaimers to her posts, detailing that she doesn’t condone travel until it is safe to do so: “this is a really difficult time to know what to do. I did want to acknowledge the situation rather than blindly continuing.” So she penned an open letter detailing her thoughts and questions about what the future holds for the travel industry.
On Julianna’s blog now, you will see plenty of inspirational content offering readers some wanderlust to look forward to, but until all that is possible, she thinks that: “this summer will be all about national travel and I think that that focus will probably continue towards the end of the year.”
“I think that when this is all over, we’re going to appreciate travelling so much more. It’s something that some of us have really taken for granted recently, and I think that it’s really positive that we can now come at travel with fresh eyes and a newfound appreciation for just how transformative it can be.”
Of all the amazing things Julianna has seen and done, I had to take the opportunity to ask her what she loved most about her job, and I’ll bet you’ll never guess what she said.
“My favourite thing, hands down about doing what I do is when people email me saying that they’ve followed my itinerary, or they saw a suggestion and they did it, and loved it. It’s real people implementing and actioning your recommendations, and that kind of feedback is just invaluable.”
That’s right, of all the amazing elements to Julianna’s job she loves you, the reader, the most – and we think that is pretty special.
While Julianna may inspire you to travel, the role of many others in the industry is to take you there – and their livelihoods have been equally as affected. We also spoke to Aaron, a pilot who formerly flew for Flybe before their untimely demise just as the coronavirus hit the UK. He has admirably hung up his hat and swapped his uniform for a hi-vis vest, driving HGVs through the night to ensure the shelves are stocked in Tesco. What a guy!
His love for travel, like many of us, blossomed as a child: “When I set off on my first family holiday, I discovered how fun and exciting travel can be and I knew I wanted more of it and so, it became my passion and most loved hobby. From the age of six years old I had this vision to become an airline pilot.”
And it looks like his vision became his reality: “I’m an extroverted person, and travel offers me a very diverse and dynamic lifestyle, where every day can be different. I love visiting new places, gaining more knowledge of the world, and meeting new faces, whether they be colleagues or customers.”
We also took the opportunity to ask Aaron what the best part of his career in travel was and guess what he said? Of course, it was seeing the smiles on your faces. “I would have to say, the most memorable highs are the trips to Paris. Taking the families on their Disney holidays. The smiles and the excitement of our passengers always made my day. I loved interacting with the families, allowing them to sit in the flight deck before departure and answering all the interesting questions the kids had to offer.”
After all, they do say that travel is the industry of human happiness.
Finally, we thought we’d ask one of our own what working in travel means to them. Ste, dealchecker’s Managing Director speaks for all of us when he says: “travel enriches the soul and grows you as a person. I know you don’t always have to like the product you’re selling but it certainly helps.”
At this time, we want to keep you, our customers in the loop, while ensuring that your safety is our top priority. Ste said: “we are trying to keep our customers as informed as we can be around the latest travel restrictions currently in place around the world as well as detailing the latest refund policies from our partners – be it through social media or on our dedicated Coronavirus page.”
There are many things consumers can do to help future proof their favourite travel brands too. Ste said: “If consumers feel comfortable simply re-booking for a different time or accepting a voucher then that will help the industry massively, but they are by rights entitled to also ask for a refund if their travel plans are cancelled.”
But when it comes to cancelled holidays, remember we dealcheckers are in the same boat as you. Ste has already had to cancel some of the holidays he had planned with his family but he, like Julianna, is confident that there will be a surge in demand for domestic holidays this year: “people will want the safety of being close to home and then longer term we will just have to wait and see. Travel will rebound as it always does.”
For now though, Ste has some words of positivity that give us all something to look forward to.
“All the places you know and love will still be there waiting for you, along with the ones you’ve yet to visit. Now is a good time to create your travel wishlist and as soon as it is safe to do so, airlines will start flying again, countries will reopen their borders and hotels will be doing everything they can to make their accommodation safe. We may have to change our habits but if it means being able to visit the places you love, it is a price worth paying.”
So let’s cut our travel industry a bit of slack, shall we? Because travel is more than just a money-making machine – it’s epic discoveries, whole new worlds, happiness packaged, and the only thing money can buy that makes you richer. Not only that, it’s real people who make it happen, whose passion and livelihoods are at stake, all at once. But most of all, we miss you. We miss creating those smiles, seeing special memories form from the smallest moments and seeing you fall in love with travel as much as we have. So, as soon as you’re ready to take flight, we’ll be there, waiting to welcome you on board.