Firstly, I hope this finds you all well?
The past two months have without question been a challenging time not just for those in the travel industry but the world as a whole.
I wanted to take this opportunity to get in touch with everyone to let you know what I have been doing.
The impact of Covid-19 was starting to really impact travel by the end of February and as we got towards the end of March, more and more countries had closed their borders and the FCO travel advice changed hourly. Not only the standard entry requirements but Visa restrictions and isolation rules.
My immediate concern and focus was with those who were overseas and being immediately impacted by this. Working with Travel Counsellors 24/7 duty office to get these customers home as soon as possible. I never thought getting my customers home from Spain and the Canaries would be an issue but due to the numbers involved, I breathed a huge sigh of relief when my last customers returned home, safe and well. This also included getting people back early from Las Vegas as well as Thailand.
My attention then turned to those due to depart at the end of March and into April. I have spent many hours speaking to my customers and advising them of all the different possible scenarios as well as continuing to provide up to date and accurate travel advice.
The ongoing advice from the FCO of not to travel has meant that there has been great disappointment for many, especially those due to travel over the Easter period. To add further impact, many suppliers (companies) have changed their policies. Bending the “normal rules and regulations”, using creative wording to suit their own terms as well as blatantly throwing them “out of the window” which has caused frustration for many. Some airlines even flew empty planes at the start of the travel ban to avoid cancelling flights and therefore having to pay refunds. I have had numerous phone calls as these policies have changed with not only my own customers but also those that have not booked with me and are struggling to get answers from companies they have booked through, whether that be online or through other agencies.
For me, my working day has not changed dramatically (apart from now having to fit home schooling a 6 and 9 year old into my day and if you are juggling work and this, I do not have to explain the challenges in any more detail!) as I work from home anyway am able to continue to be available to my customers as usual. There have been many articles written and I have seen segments on various TV shows over the last few weeks including the BBC news with individuals justifiably getting in touch with them to vent their anger at not being able to get answers. They are just getting recorded voicemail calls which cut off or are simply being ignored. I take pride in the fact that I am here to speak to you and I am still happy to provide any advice to those that are struggling to contact their providers and do the very best I can for them.
For my customers who still have bookings for this year, I am doing all I can to work with them and once again cover off the different scenarios available to get the best outcome for them. This can be extending their payment dates, moving their holiday to next year to ensure they do not lose any money if they decide to cancel or have been impacted financially themselves as a result of the lock down. I also continue to work with those whose travel plans have now been cancelled to get their money back, or a credit note if they prefer as quickly as possible.
It is fair to say that nothing has impacted the travel industry like this has but there are positives! I am getting more and more enquires now for next year, especially those that have had milestone plans such as “Big” Birthdays, Anniversary’s, Weddings/Honeymoons etc impacted by this as well as those wanting to ensure their celebrations or dream trip happens next year. I am grateful for the understanding and support shown by my customers.
Most importantly, I hope you and your family stay safe and well and I hope to speak to you in the very near future. We will fly and sail again!