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Travel Advisors Say Flight Prices Are Impacting Caribbean Vacation Bookings

By: Caribbean Journal Staff

By Joe Pike, Special Contributor to CTA

In short, the biggest challenge travel advisors are dealing with in 2023 is the ongoing negative effect the pandemic has had on booking travel — particularly the cost of flights.

Advisors are reporting that the domino effect of the last three years has created a list of challenges that go beyond the initial difficulties of navigating health protocols.

Availability and Pricing

“Availability has been the largest obstacle,” said Sally Jane Smith , co-owner of The TravelSmiths. “Pricing has increased tremendously since pre-pandemic levels. Airfare availability has been pretty brutal throughout the course of the last couple months. It’s mostly because of everyone traveling.”

Lee Friedman, founder and advisor of Mango Tree Travel, an affiliate of Jetset World Travel, agreed.

“High flight prices and limited routes make it challenging to find the right island for each travelers’ budget and flight preferences,” said Friedman. “Travelers can be quite discouraged by Caribbean flight prices upwards of $1,000 per ticket, especially when they envision a quick, easy getaway to the beach.” 

So, what’s the solution?

“First, when planning Caribbean travel, start with flights, not hotels,” said Friedman. “We encourage travelers to consider connecting flights rather than direct-only flights to get to the right Caribbean destination, and destinations with good flights they might not have considered before.

“Once you’ve found an affordable flight path, think outside the box when it comes to hotels,” she continued. “Travelers can have amazing Caribbean experiences at some smaller, family-owned and boutique properties that aren’t priced as high as the more well-known resorts.”

Supply and Demand

“There is a lot of demand for travel and not enough hours in the day to handle it all, and not that many people to hire to help you manage it,” said Andrey Zakharenko, founder of My World to Travel / Always Travel and co-founder and owner of Russian Connections. “The fear that you are not doing a good job is lurking in the back of your mind. There are less agents and more people looking to use agents.”

Michelle Gordon of Jetset World Travel has a solution.

“We saw a high demand for international travel in 2022 and it has not slowed down,” she said. “I am realistic with clients and often suggest pivoting to an alternative destination to help with value and availability or suggesting alternating travel dates. Many hotels have extended their seasonality to accommodate this demand as well.”

Work/Life Balance

“Balancing work and life is becoming a lot harder,” said Zakharenko. “We got into travel to enjoy life and travel. Now, it seems we work all the time and work when we travel and a true vacation/getaway is not something that most of us do.”

While there’s no one solution to anyone’s work/life balance, Lena Brown of Largay Travel said it does serve as another reminder of the importance of charging fees.

“I look at how many hours I will be spending with proposals and assisting [clients] during their travel, and I charge accordingly,” said Brown. “My clients know how much time I invest in making their vacations, fabulous memories for a lifetime. They are willing to pay for the value I bring and the peace of mind knowing I am there with them every step of the way.” 

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