As you know the Covid-19 pandemic has greatly affected your travel and travel plans.
We have been busy ensuring our clients have returned to Canada and for upcoming bookings that the clients have been looked after related to cancellations, refunds and future credits.
We have to say that those who took travel insurance have had more options.
We wish you all well, stay at home, use social distancing and wash your hands. Let us all contribute to getting back to a “new” normal.
– Dorothy and Brian
Our Covid-19 Stories
On March 11 we were both away in the US, Dorothy in Phoenix and Brian in Mesquite. Leaving Canada, the week prior we both questioned the trip as the news had started to focus on Wuhan on a daily bases but we decided to go. The week we left was the last “normal” week of 2020. We took ample supplies of hand sanitizer and disinfectant wipes, even then. Brian was leading a golf group and shared these supplies with the other members.
On March 11 it became clear we needed to get home, fortunately we were both booked on flights for March 13. Arriving safely and then self-isolating.
We had clients on out-of-country trips. We had to get them returned to Canada mid-trip.
For instance: One couple were a long way from home and only 2/3 of the way into their 39 days, 6 country trip. We contacted our supplier partner (knowledgeable about the specific destinations and trip itinerary) for recommendations. We agreed they should be returned home early. It is difficult to email someone and say maybe you should come home, of course they are going to respond maybe not? Scuba diving and cherry blossoms were still on the itinerary.
We came up with a return plan. There was now no time to waste! Flights were being cancelled and boarders were being closed. The long and short of it, over the weekend working many hours we got them back to Canada.
- Calling in the middle of the night.
- Rescheduled flights using as much of the original booking payment as possible.
- Keeping their original class of service and seat selection.
- The new itinerary required a night stay not on the original tour.
- Identifying the unused (flights, hotels, tours, rail, tickets), ready for the insurance claim.
- Rebooking flights, new overnight hotel booked and transfers to the airport arranged all while they went scuba diving and spent a day at the beach.
On their return, we watched the flights and were very worried they would get stopped along the way or a connecting flight would cancel. Fortunately, they made it home and we were never so relieved to receive the text that they had indeed landed in Canada with just one short flight to get home. On arrival in Canada we had an insurance claim started with all the paper work needed to submit the claim. They just needed to send us the expenses they incurred on the trip home.
Now we could focus on our clients who had trips booked that were happening in the next few months.
Interestingly, a fellow advisor just gave us a new “role”. Along with being Travel Consultants we are now Cancellation Consultants and even Refund Consultants and Future Credit Consultants.
We used these “roles” to cancel many travel components (flights, upgrades, hotels, tickets, rail, tours, transfers) around the world and work with the relevant supplier to provide applicable future credits and refunds.
We see these aspects of being key elements for future reservations.
These new roles have tested us and our travel supplier partners for the last few months but we feel better
prepared for the next few years in the industry.
What We Learned
Our Host “with the Most” travel company Travel Professional International (TPI) supported, boosted, educated, advocated, consoled and all round came through for us.
Daily changes to policies and procedures. As the story unfolded our insurance partner reacted and, in some cases, not as favorably as we wanted for our clients. Having a strong CEO and support staff that included all of TPI we have been able to challenge some of the policies to better protect our clients travel dollars.
We also had some amazing partner experiences. Business development managers, local representatives and reservation agents that understood we were all in this together and worked every day and into the night returning emails with a quick call or setting up zoom meetings to give us face to face real time support.
All to make sure we could inform our clients how best to request refunds, and cancel trips. We spent time looking for ways to ensure the best outcome.
We also learned:
- Some suppliers reacted and supported us better than others
- Some suppliers are better equipped going forward than others
- Suppliers are addressing cancellations, refunds, credits in different ways
- Suppliers are addressing distancing, cleanliness, safety in different ways
- Some suppliers are able to weather the financial storm better than others
- Some suppliers have better connections with the destinations (and what is happening) than others
Travel insurance was an important factor before the pandemic, going forward it is going to be even more vital.
We know we will need to build trust and provide answers for hard questions. Our work days are spent connecting with supplier partners learning about how they will manage the safety of our clients.
Watching how destinations have started to reopen and following the outcomes. Travel supplier partners are busy building more flexible booking conditions, some have offered additional credits to rebook with us again.
We feel now is a good time to begin a series of virtual presentations with some of those supplier partners that we are excited to work with again.
Stay tuned for more information.
– Dorothy and Brian