Travel Agents

Are travel agents the new therapists?

Hannah Edensor

With a number of agents branding themselves as ‘wellness’ warriors, is there a trend for travel agents to become the next form of travel therapist?

A new article from Travel Market Report has identified agents operating as ‘travel shrinks’, citing the ways they help heal people through travel.

Hope Yonge, an agent with Post Haste Travel in Hollywood, Florida, scored the label ‘travel shrink’ when she helped a heartbroken client get over a divorce through travel, per TMR.

Yonge suggested heli-hiking in Canada, and despite the woman saying, “My ex-husband and I were in BC together and I just couldn’t bear it”, Yonge urged her on in the spirit of healing, and the trip paid off.

When the client came home, Yonge said, “She looked at me with a big smile and said…Travel Shrink”.

Another pair of agents, Carly and Jessica Renshaw of Vancouver-based Renshaw Travel, also market themselves as “travel therapists”, according to TMR.

The sisters brand their agency as a collective of “wellness travel experts”, even creating The Renshaw Wellness Collection, with the tagline, “Prescribing Travel for your Wellbeing”.

Carly boasts two degrees in nutrition, while Jessica has a kinesiology degree while being a certified personal trainer and raw-food chef, so the pair have well and truly backed up their ‘wellness professional’ claims.

“In order for us to plan the best trip possible for our clients we really need to know why they are travelling, what their intention is for the trip, and other personal information to curate a customised experience,” Jessica said.

“We do act as ‘travel therapists.’”

One particular story of the Renshaw sisters, according to TMR, is one of a female business owner who was on the verge of having a breakdown.

She asked about combining a wellness retreat with a business trip to China, where the Renshaw sisters suggested a five-night Stress & Burnout Program at Kamalaya Wellness Sanctuary in Thailand.

“The spirituality and philosophy of the retreat, paired with the nourishing energy and the stress management program all made it a good fit for her needs, and also fit her budget,” Jessica said.

The ‘digital detox’ approach of the resort also gave her the space and time to “forget her work duties and turn her focus inward, allowing her to return home to work with a renewed energy and motivation”, they said.

And while there’s no denying the prevalence and online appeal of OTAs, according to TMR, the rise of “travel therapists”, like Yonge and the Renshaw sisters, will see agents yet again fill another gap that OTAs can’t compete with.

 

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