Is Brexit to blame for travel agent troubles? | Viewsbank

Is Brexit to blame for travel agent troubles?

Rewind a few years and if you wanted to book yourself a package holiday, chances are you wouldn’t think twice about visiting your local travel agent in order to book your trip. Fast forward to today however, and it’s a different story, with various online comparison sites and market disrupting tech firms like Airbnb all fighting for your cash when it comes to holiday booking time. Is there still room for traditional travel agents such as Thomas Cook and Tui in this modern age, or are they on the way out?

You’ll likely have seen the news over the last week or so that Thomas Cook has unfortunately revealed fresh financial woes, announcing a staggering £1.5 billion six months loss, and issuing its third profit warning in less than a year. The company is citing Brexit uncertainty as the primary reason for customers making fewer bookings this year, but is it all too easy to blame Brexit for something that has been a long time coming?

We thought we’d do a bit of digging and try and find out a bit more by looking at the thoughts of our Viewsbank members in last week’s Omnibus survey. Surely that could help us get to the bottom of it?

To set the scene, we asked our 1,019 respondents whether they had taken a holiday abroad in the last 5 years, with 69% (707) saying that they had. With that in mind we wanted to see how many people were likely to be going on holiday abroad this year, to see whether or not Brexit was having a significant impact on bookings. Interestingly, 67% (680) told us that, yes they had already booked or were likely to book, or they were “maybe” considering it. Not exactly a significant drop off from those who had been on holiday abroad in the last five years.

The 33% (339) who said no, were also asked why they were not planning on taking a holiday abroad this year, with just 5% (16) of those respondents stating that they were concerned about the impact of Brexit – not exactly inline with what Thomas Cook is reporting. The majority of respondents (51%, 173) simply told us that they couldn’t afford it this year, with a further 16% (53) saying they weren’t interested, and 15% (51) saying they were too busy this year.

Digging a little deeper we asked everyone who had already booked, or were likely to book a holiday abroad this year, how likely they were to use a travel agent such as Thomas Cook. Just 7% (45) of respondents reported having already booked their holiday this way. However, things are looking a little better here for travel agents here with 37% (251) respondents stating they were either likely or very likely to use a travel agent, with a further 18% (121) not sure. The remaining 39% (263) told us that they were either unlikely or very unlikely to use a travel agent.

We also wanted to know why these respondents were unlikely to use a travel agent – 51% (134) told us that they thought travel agents were too expensive, while 38% (99) said they were outdated and 32% (83) thought they were not convenient enough. Interestingly, 18% (47) said they would not book with a travel agent specifically due to being worried about the travel agent going into administration. We followed that up by asking if the recent £1.5bn loss announcement would put respondents off booking, and on a scale of 1 to 5, with 5 being completely put off, and 1 being not put off at all, 31% (218) of the 707 respondents who answered that question scored either a 4 or 5 here, so clearly announcements like this aren’t going to help matters.

What do you think? Do you think travel agents like Thomas Cook will be able to adapt for the future, or are they on the way out? Do you think companies have been quick to blame Brexit for other deeper issues, or do you think that it’s fair for Brexit to shoulder the blame? Let us know in the comments – we look forward to hearing what you think!


they've left it a bot late to adapt.. the holdiay hotel discount firms have been in business for several years.  It will take thomas cook and others a lot of hard work t chaqnge their image and comete with the on-line companies.

Brexit is a convenient scapegoat, we haven't left the EU yet and as the sample here shows for the majority of people it's having little or no impact on their holiday plans. Thomas Cook has been behind the times for years, I've travelled a lot, but I haven't used a travel agent for decades and even when I did it wouldn't have been Thomas Cook as they were the most expensive of its type.

Your right babe. This government is quack

I agree with you, i will book a holiday next year but not with Thomas Cook as you say he is to expensive.




People have still been going on holiday 'Brexit or no brexit'.  The way people choose and book holidays has changed and Thomas Cook has not adapted well to these changes.  We tend to book all our holidays online now and a lot of the time we will book everthing seperately, quick, simple and easily done from your computer.   

Yet another 'traditional' company who have failed to adapt - and then lay the blame at the feet of Brexit, which is utter hogwash.  The entire holiday industry has completely changed, and Thomas Cook are actually no longer needed.

I doubt Brexit is the reason for travel companies business profits falling or stagnating it's easy to blame Brexit for other flaws in complex systems I agree with other respondents failure of many travel companies to adapt or be flexible to customers demands is probably also significant factor

People have less income now .

Frozen pay , zero hours .

This is the reason nothing to do with Brexit 

If you have no money for essentials there is no money for travel 

Just read UN report on poverty in U.K. 

Well said!

I fully agree with you 

I think money is tight and people are not booking through agents as it's cheaper to stay at home. Plus the weather had been great at home too. I don't think it's fair to blame Brexit, it's just Thomas Cook failing to adapt to modern society.

this goverment is a joke and they have done their utmost to scare the people of the UK into oh we cant leave because of this and that and major companies have jumped on to the Brexit band wagon increasing prices and saying its because of Brexit .

Wake up do you think Spain or any other EU country will not want people from this country speading money in THEIR  country keeping their jobs going you think products producted in this country wont be wanted by other countries and just because we arent part of the massive click called Europe we are going to be out casts 

If they want our products or our people to holiday in their countries they ll bend over backwards to get us their 

the only people who stand to lose out with us coming out of the EU is this goverment and their pay outs for the EU into their pockets 

I Brexit is partlyto blame people are also woried about being stranded  without flights home 

Companies/businesses have been closing and failing for years way before we joined the EU in the 70's, while we have been a part of it (which has seen the most closures), while we are in the Brexit process, and may continue to do so after we have left the EU. Those who fail to adapt to competitors, and other change or bad management in general are the main reasons. Brexit was always going to be a fantastic excuse for anyone to use. Very predictable!

Who knows we maybe using our departure from the EU as a reason for less failures in the future when 'eventually' things settle down and normalise!... Thats just it, no-one knows what the alternative, either way, would have brought/could have been! 

It’s far cheaper to organise a holiday at home yourself, than paying a premium to a travel agent to book it for you, especially if you are computer literate.

i can get a weeks holiday in the canaries for less than £400 for 2, I’d like to see a travel agen do that.

We are unwilling to go abroad,because being disabled ,would worry about any hospital treatment ,plus the travel insurance would go through the roof. So when we leave ,that would be the end,of holidays abroad .

no . it is just scaremongering

No - it is just an outdated way to book- most people book online and get better deals and often cashback. Aslo package holidays are so passe.

I agree you get better deals online and it's easyer todo.

Online so very popular

I have already booked two Spanish holidays, without even a thought for Brexit !!! It makes no difference to me. One holiday I booked direct with the hotel, as it was MUCH cheaper that through a travel agent, the other was through a small independant travel agent.

Everything that goes wrong now will be blamed on Brexit, the perfect scapegoat

So true.

Brexit has made no difference to my holiday bookings, in fact we have more booked than normal being 3 cruises in the next 9 months and a 3 week holiday to Tenerife this autumn. Travel agents are losing out due to not adapting quick enough. There is lots of choice online now for people to research, compare and book their own holidays without the need to “travel” to a travel agent then sit there for hours whilst they try to get you a deal you’re happy with that also gives them the commission they want. I wish the media would stop blaming/using Brexit as the answer to most of today’s problems. The only problem with Brexit is that Theresa May has tried to do a deal instead of just getting out without a deal - as most people want.

No I don't think so, whenever something happens in the world it seems to be blamed for everything else.  We have not changed any of our plans and do not intend to. People we meet are still carrying on with their plans regardless. We do not and have never really used travel agents anyway, we wander off the beaten track and book our own accomodation ad hoc, we meet lots of interesting local people with local foods and traditions.

I feel sure that foreign hotels will be more than willing to accomodate the UK travel agents as they are a big part of their income, as will the airports, I cannot see them turning away planes because we are no longer in the EU. 

How will Europe cope with all of those extra bedrooms to sell elsewhere and all of those plane seats to fill, come on get a grip, no one will cut their nose off to spite their face.

The only issue we have is the strength of the pound against the Euro, but that cannot be blamed only on Brexit, it always goes up and down.

No you can't blame Brexit on everything

No Brexit is no way to blame for travel agent troubles, Before you could book using the internet travel agents made a good profits on selling holidays . Now you have the internet people do a lot of bookings on line. I and my family recently returned from a 10 day holiday in Turkey on a Thomas cook flight which was more than half empty . Flights for 9 people were booked on line at a great price much cheaper than a Travel agent.


No, I don’t think so, the agencies are to blame from what I can perceive!

Probably. People are afraid to to purchase anything that requires long term payment incase of sudden rises or other complications. So it's completely understandable that they'd decide against holidays too.

Nothing to do with Brexit. Holidays in the UK are becoming very popular again.

Also there's no need to go to a travel agent for a foreign holiday, it's far easier on line.

I think travel agents still have a role, especially when putting together bespoke packages. I think they are quite good for families and people with special needs and having reps in the hotel can be useful sometimes. They can offer some good deals as they can get lower rates when they block book accommodation and flights.

 You can blame Brexit for everything it seems, the thing that is bad is the way it has been dealt with and goes on and on

I suspect many businesses, like mine, have been prevented from growing by ludicrous rules and regulations imposed on us by the idiotic bureaucrats in the EU commission. I am looking forward to business opportunities that will open up once we are free from them. So to answer the original question, No Brexit is not to blame, it is more likely the rules imposed on travel agents by the EU.

Despite being pensioners we have been booking our own holidays online for about 10 years now purely on the cost factor, this year we wanted something specific and went to a travel agent, not only did they not listen to the specific requirements but the cost was ridiculous, checked it out online and it was two thirds cheaper to book the same flight, hotel and transfer, so no Brexit is not to blame, it is travel agents and their overheads

Agents too slow like many to see growth of online independent travel also people were worried about the difficulties Brexit present for Euro travel and entering UK and reentering 

many are also broke due to austerity 

There are so many other ways to book holidays, it's so easy online. I rarely use travel agents.

I don’t think brexit is a problem

Brexit is in no way responsible for the demise of the travel agent. It is a convenient scapegoat for a large number of failures. 

I am researching my next holiday and by booking myself and cutting out a travel agent, I reckon at least a 40% saving. On top of that I get loyalty points through particular apps, cashback through cashback sites and can tailor a holiday to our needs,

Add in experiences that I have had through travel agents such as TUI ( mis described acomodations and non existant customer service is being kind)  and I would never consider using them, TUI,  again.

If a travel agent could be relied on to give accurate descriptions, assistance were NEEDED, then there might be a service for paying extra to hotel and transport costs.




Brexit isn't to be blamed. The agents should bear the all blame

It's easier and cheaper to use online sites like Expedia and book directly with airlines. We're all capable of arranging our holidays without a travel agent. Nothing to do with Brexit!

The only time I use High street travels agents now is to let them do the donkey work, they give me prices and destinations and print them off for me and then I go online and book with the hotels direct, sort my own flights out plus transfers. Works out way cheaper and better flight times as well Smile

I think we have become a bit wiser to being able to do these things independently now with the help of people like Martin Lewis and get them cheaper by taking a bit of time and putting our packages together ourselves at least your a bit sure of getting the best deal and not one that a travel agent maybe aligned with. All in all I think they are more expensive and you run the risk in today’s climate of them going into financial difficulties 

Mostly people do all their holiday bookings o  linr

Partly as I think some people are hesistant to book holidays in the current economic & political climate. However I do think a lot of people book their own flights etc and use Airbnb etc. which cuts out the need to use a travel agent. 

Not at all, most people have access to the internet which makes booking holidays so simple.

Yes it's too blame

Less travel is probably a good thing for the environment anyway.

The Brexiteers do not want us to leave the UK. They are no different then the Stasi in East Germany. They would build a wall across the channel if they could. Ironic that they hate Corbyn when they are adopting an Iron Curtain attitude to travel.

Stupidest comment I've read today. 

Brexit has compounded their problems with a diminishing Market but if Brexit actually happens it will be staycations all round due to gridlock on the roads and transport paralysis so the worst is yet to come for travel agents.