Unsung Heroes of COVID-19Posted on 03/24/2020
In these trying times of COVID-19, one of the industries taking the biggest hit is the Travel Industry.
Many people are unaware that travel professionals are not paid until their clients take a vacation. With the massive cancellations expected for the foreseeable future, travel agents continue to advocate for clients in getting refunds and future travel credits. Still, yet we won't be paid for all our work.
Our agency, Destinations in Fayetteville, Arkansas, has canceled the majority of our business, which was booked in 2019, for travel in 2020. We expect losses to the tune of $100,000's of dollars. Destinations has been hit especially hard as our agency specializes in Europe, Ocean Cruises, River Cruises, and beach vacations.
This is not a poor me, pity party. It's an attempt to show the value of using a local travel professional, and supporting a small family-owned business.
Here's the alternative: We've been reading a multitude of posts on social media voicing travelers' frustrations that they can not reach the "Bookit.com" style websites. These quick-book businesess have left their travelers in the lurch. Many of them have shut off their phones, did not pay for their clients' vacations after collecting their funds, and left their clients to handle the fallout. We see complaint after complaint about six to ten hour wait times to reach airlines, cruise lines, and online travel agencies.
At Destinations, the last three weeks have consisted of rescheduling vacations for future travel dates, so that our valued clients do not lose their money. We've argued with airlines to refund a trip that can't be rescheduled, in the minimal window they offered for rebooking. Our team consoled valued guests who will no longer have that vacation memory to cherish, which they've planned for over a year. We've rescheduled destination weddings for distraught brides and grooms. We've filed claims and fought with insurance companies who claim cancellations due to a "Pandemic" aren't a covered reason for cancellation. It all takes a toll, both on our travel professionals, and our guests.
When you are ready to start planning a new vacation, and you typically always buy on price through an online travel agency or big box store, versus using your hometown travel agency, please remember that we advocate for you, our client. How much is a cheap vacation worth when the tour company takes your money but doesn't pay for your trip? How much is an inexpensive vacation worth when you can't reach the vendor to cancel or re-book, and then can't get your money back? How much is a cheap vacation worth when you have to sit on hold for 6 -10 hours to even to speak to a human?
Service is worth a whole lot these days. Advocacy is worth a whole lot these days. Support your locally-owned small businesses. You aren't just a booking to our team, you are a family looking to create memories. You are a 50th wedding anniversary celebration; you are a honeymoon with your new spouse. You are a first time trip to Europe to see the great Masterpieces and our civilization's origins.
You mean a lot more than dollars and cents to us.