Dallas, TX—After being on lockdown during the pandemic, travel agencies are helping clients book bucket-list trips.
Travelers are also extending their vacations and exploring more areas of the United States, according to mother-daughter travel team Mellanie Ingle and Amber Hardy of the Mellanie Ingle Luxury Travel Agency.
“I want to create a bumper sticker, ‘Have Vaccine – Will Travel,’” said Ingle, who opened her first travel agency thirty-four years ago. “Many of our clients have been vaccinated, and they are ready to get something on the calendar to look forward to.”
Along with booking trips to Mexico and the Caribbean, they have also helped clients travel as far as the Maldives, Dubai and French Polynesia recently.
“Travel will be back and travel guidelines will be forever changed,” Ingle said. “That is the silver lining of this craziness to me. Cruise ships will be safer than ever, even just from the common cold or flu, with the new protocols put into place. Hotels now take further steps in cleaning and tour groups will be smaller.”
With all of the restrictions, guidelines, and unknowns, using an agent now is more important than ever.
“We do not charge for our service, and you should never pay a higher price for using us compared to booking yourself,” Ingle said. “In many cases, we save our clients money because of our buying power and exclusive offers. We are the level of protection for clients that they do not have when booking direct.”
Some of their clients’ favorite destinations include Italy, Greece and Spain, as well as all-inclusive resorts and tropical destinations such as Tahiti and Bora Bora.
“In the past most of our clients were international bound,” Ingle said. “This summer we have incorporated many more U.S. destinations than ever before: national parks, luxury dude ranches and outdoor adventure trips. It’s been fun to watch clients get excited about seeing the U.S., even though they may have already traveled around the world. Overall, Europe, Africa and exploration travel are the primary bookings for us. During Covid we also developed a branch specifically for Pickleball group travel, which has been very fun and successful.”
Amber Hardy says her favorite destination by far is Africa.
“There is something about the feeling you get sitting in an open jeep watching lions, leopards and large herds of elephants walk right by you that just can’t be matched,” Hardy said. “I also loved traveling to the Galapagos. It is an area similar to Africa in that it is so natural and undisturbed by humans. It’s such a serene feeling.”
Ingle also prefers traveling to remote destinations where you can unplug and appreciate the beauty of world we live in.
“Wildlife is a big part of that for me, so Africa is my passion,” she said. “I try and go at least once a year, and I’ve really missed it. We are going in August 2021, so I’m very excited. Alaska is also high on my list, and when traveling to Europe, my favorite countries are Germany, Italy and Scotland.”
When not traveling, Hardy and Ingle enjoy living vicariously through planning clients’ trips and hearing about them afterward.
“We are in a business that makes dreams come true,” Ingle said. “We work very hard to create and deliver the dreams our clients have in mind when they reach out to us. Overall, we are fortunate we are in a happy business. We work hard but it is rewarding, and the personal travel experiences we have are amazing.”
While hope returns, traveling to some destinations is still a challenge
Although many clients are rebooking their trips, some people may have to cancel their plans. The travel requirements for many countries are still foggy, and the cruise lines are determining which ports they will be allowed to enter with the new Covid policies.
“We deal with it month-to-month as the world unfolds,” Ingle said.
The mother-daughter team predict that travel will come back and that when it does it will be bigger than ever.
“I think once the world really starts to open and fear continues to decrease, we will have a record-breaking couple of years ahead,” Ingle said. “We are seeing bigger and longer trips after months of not being able to travel. Our clients seem to have developed a bit more of an adventurous, cross-off-the-bucket list mentality.”