It’s crazy to think that just two weeks ago I was sharing my journey to Africa with you, and now many of us are under "stay at home" orders as we face one of the most widespread pandemics that humanity has ever seen.
While you’re probably overwhelmed with news and updates regarding COVID-19, I wanted to touch on a few things related to your travel – whether you currently have travel booked with us, another agent, or booked on your own.
Sorry it's a little long - there is a lot to go through. Here are a few things to consider if you have travel plans currently booked...
Throughout this evolving situation, most all suppliers (airlines, resorts, car rentals, tours, etc) have remained consistent in assisting those who are departing first.
Anyone who is slated to depart after early May are asked to remain patient and wait for the industry to catch up on those departing earlier than you.
There are two benefits to this:
Many personnel are trying to do their job from home amidst the same health concerns the entire world is facing, the only difference is their workload has increased dramatically and they are attempting to complete their duties without access to the same systems they had in the office.
Remember this is a GLOBAL crisis, so trillions of people are in need of assistance at the same time, in addition to you. Unfortunately, this circumstance is unlike anything we have ever seen, and it will take some time, patience and understanding as everyone is adapting to the changes and massive workload. The one consistency across the travel industry is the need to assist those who in order of travel dates - so those who are supposed to be traveling soon can receive help first.
At this time, the people scheduled to travel between now and mid-May may be eligible for credits, and possibly refunds. However, if you are traveling further out than that, the odds are you will still fall under the standard cancellation policies and would need to assume all penalties associated with canceling. This is why it could be in your best interest to hang tight and wait closer to your travel dates and see what the suppliers are offering at that time. Many companies are posting their updated terms on their website, so you can go online to visit your travel suppliers website to view what their most current terms are.
I had some clients asking about cancelling weeks ago and had they done, so they would have lost thousands in payments already made, but as they waited and their travel dates got closer, I was able to secure credits and even refunds, depending on the situation and supplier.
I can honestly say that the industry has been doing a wonderful job of being there for our clients and all they’re asking for is a little patience so they have time to help everyone around the globe.
If you've booked your travel through a travel advisor, you're in luck - we are here to help you navigate terms and conditions, waivers, cancellation policies and be a liaison between you and the different vendors that are coordinated to create your travel package.
Many of you have a number of different components to your packages and my job is to help sort those out - whether it's getting train tickets in Europe refunded, submitting documentation and filling out forms for refunds, or supplying you with alternate tour, cruise, or reservation options for you to use your new credits towards.
Additionally, your travel advisor often has different phone numbers to access suppliers and other connections within the industry that we can reach out to in order to facilitate a resolution and obtain answers to questions that are not readily available. No need for you to sit on hold for 7+ hours or deal with crashing phone systems during a crisis - we alleviate that stress!
I've unfortunately seen a number of people struggling to reach the company they booked through, and in some cases, many travelers have been left with no one to speak to or anyone to help because of devious business practices and simply put, the lack of care and support for you as a client. If you have a good travel agent on your side, you can rest assure that we are doing everything we can to provide you as seamless experience as possible in a situation like this. No one should have to worry about anything but their health, communities and families at this time and if we can help ease our clients' lives right now, we will!
An important fact to bear in mind is that suppliers aren't required to change their policies if the travel can still be completed – terms and conditions are legally binding and the fact that they really are trying to do the right thing throughout this tumultuous and unprecedented time, is commendable.
We are paying very close attention to those companies treating our clients fairly and honorably, so we can move forward after life returns to normal and develop stronger professional relationships with those vendors. You can remain confident that we only work with the best in the industry - and this crisis is a good reminder of the difference in the level of support and service you can receive.
I hope I managed to answer some questions today and was able to convey a little more insight into why it might seem like the travel industry is taking a little longer than preferable to assist with your cancellations or rescheduling.
Rest assured that we are all doing everything in our power to shoulder the burden and help you so that you can spend time with your family knowing that we are diligently working to ensure that you get fair treatment and resolutions.
I began this business over a decade ago because I wanted to help people experience the world through travel and I plan to continue helping my clients - old and new - well after this is over and for many years to come.
Thank you for your support and business over the years! Together we can get through anything!
Stay safe, positive and hopeful!
*PS* For those quarantined and looking for ways to support small business at home... Please follow us on Facebook and/or Instagram and engage with our posts. Conversations are important to the algorithm behind the scenes that consider us "relevant" to be seen. That would be a huge help to us so we can continue to grow our business and hopefully find some new clients too - which will be needed as soon as we can travel again. Travel agents are paid on commission when clients travel, so it's important for us to continue to build our name and support. You're the best!!
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