Nicole Piatak, a nanny from Stow, Ohio, began working with Ms. Bendel in the fall of 2019 to plan her honeymoon, a six-day trip to Hawaii, in October 2020.
“I love travel and adventure, but planning can be very overwhelming and exhausting for me,” said Ms. Piatak, who is 27 years old.
When Hawaii closed its borders to tourists last year, Ms. Bendel took over the management and rebooked her trip until January.
“I heard from her once a month about the situation in Hawaii,” Ms. Piatak said of Ms. Bendel. “I was so upset we couldn’t leave in October and she just took everything off my plate.”
While the outlook for 2021 is more promising, travel agents are still surging from the devastation of 2020. According to ASTA, the average agency saw an 82 percent business crater last year and laid off around 60 percent of its employees.
“For the first few months, travel agents cracked their ankles and put their headsets on,” said Erika Richter, ASTA’s senior communications director. “You were with your head bowed and you brought people home. Well, mind you, they weren’t paid. “
Aside from booking fees, which can range from $ 25 to $ 100 depending on the type and complexity of a trip, agents typically make money on commissions from cruise lines, hotels, tour operators, and sometimes airlines, often months after the customer actually took the actual trips . When people aren’t traveling, agents don’t make much, if any, money.