Travel Industry News
reader survey: international travel and coronavirus
In May, Alpaca Your Bags Travel asked our blog readers and social media followers to complete a short survey about travel and coronavirus. The objective was to do a temperature check on everyone's fears and concerns regarding travel after COVID-19. We plan to repeat the survey at the end of the summer; stay tuned!
The survey had 70 total respondents and ended on June 1. Respondents were entered into a drawing to win a $50 Amazon Gift Card. Congrats to Korinne for being the winner!
question 1: Are You Interested in International travel in 2020?
This was exciting for me to see. Nearly 40% of our respondents are interested in international travel in 2020. As a travel agent specializing in all-inclusive resorts in Mexico and the Caribbean, this made my heart happy! The easiest and most popular international destination for Americans to visit after COVID-19 will likely be Mexico. As of today, the ban on non-essential travel between the U.S. and Mexico is set to expire on June 22, 2020.
question 2: are you interested in domestic travel in 2020?
Nearly 50% of our respondents are interested in domestic travel in 2020. I don't think this result is surprising; all of us are anxious to get out of our local areas and domestic travel seems to be the most viable alternative at the moment. Alpaca Your Bags Travel has not traditionally offered services for domestic travel, outside of Alaska in Hawaii. I am exploring this on a very limited basis in 2020 and 2021. I'll be offering options for domestic luxury resorts, spa resorts and vacation home rentals in the U.S. this year... stay tuned for more details!
If you are considering a short-term vacation rental for 2020, please make sure that you are staying up-to-date on ever changing state legislature regarding Airbnb, VRBO, etc. For example, did you know that Florida temporarily banned short-term vacation rentals during the peak of the COVID-19 quarantine? While this has been re-instated in some counties, please do your homework. If you would like assistance with finding a vacation home rental, please contact me! This is another concierge service we are exploring.
question 3: what is your timeline for taking future trips?
We are ready to GET OUT Of the house! More than 65% of respondents are interested in taking a trip within the next six months. The good news? There is a light at the end of the tunnel! Each day, we receive more information about border openings for destinations in Mexico, the Caribbean and Central America.
If you are preparing for travel down the road, please check your passport TODAY to make sure it is still valid. The US State Department has advised that passport applications will resume in phases and that delays of several months are likely.
question 4: what destinations are you interested in traveling to after covid-19?
Not surprising, 70% of respondents are interested in traveling in the US. I myself have a roadtrip to Orange Beach, Alabama planned for next month!
Also encouraging: respondents are also interested in the Caribbean and Mexico. Since I specialize in these destinations, I can't wait to start planning your future trips!
With so many trips pushed from 2020 into next year, these destinations are selling out much faster than normal. As I work with destination wedding couples, we have already found weeks in April, May and June that are completely sold out. If you are planning a vacation next year, now is the time. Make sure to schedule your free planning consultation so we can get started asap!
question 5: what type of travel experience is most interesting to you right now?
Most of our respondents are interested in all-inclusive beach resort travel (this isn't shocking, considering this was a survey of my subscribers and social media followers!)
However, please keep this in mind: There are very few options for affordable all-inclusives in the US or US territories. Our United States liquor laws and labor laws make the all-inclusive model much more expensive than what many travelers are used to. It's not impossible, but it will come at a premium price.
All-Inclusive options in the United States are also extremely limited and are booking at a record pace. If all-inclusive is your jam, its best to focus on international destinations.
Will hotels start to ffer more all-inclusive options in the U.S.? Only time will tell. My gut instinct tells me that travelers are not ready to pay the premium prices that this requires.
question 6: are you interested in adults only or family vacations after covid-19?
Leave the kids at home: Most of our respondents want an adults-only vacation. It's a good thing that there are literally hundreds of all-inclusive options for adults only! If it's time for you to reconnect with your significant other, allow me to help you plan the perfect getaway. Honeymoon and anniversary trips are the vacations I'm planning the most right now!
question 7: How long do you want to be gone for your next vacation?
We want vacations, we want them now and w want to be gone for a week. Nearly everyone wants to be gone 5-7 nights or even longer. I suspect that many people might plan shorter, domestic trips to "test the waters" and then set their sights on longer vacations in the near future.
question 8: what are your biggest concerns about traveling during the age of covid-19?
OH yes, I made a word cloud. Don't forget, I worked in advertising for 15 years before travel! It will not shock anyone to hear that health and safety were the top comments for this write-in question. Below are some of the top verbatim comments:
- I'm concerned about resorts having limited amenities which would reduce the overall vacation experience
- I would like a COVID-19 vaccine before I travel
- None! I believe the airlines and hotels have stepped up their game in terms of cleanliness and preventative measures
- I'm worried that prices will jump from what I've budgeted for
- I don't want to be stuck in another country if another lockdown occurs
- I don't want to be exposed to COVID-19; I prefer to drive to avoid airports
- Everyone freaking out and my flights getting canceled
- I don't want to be hindered by health
- Will things be open? How are different countries handling reopening? What are they doing to keep things clean?
question 9: how can alpaca your bags travel help you during this time?
These were fun to read. Here are some of my favorite verbatim comments from respondents:
- Keep being your amazing , positive, knowledgeable selves (Aw, thank you!)
- You have been wonderful support with re-booking my daughter's destination wedding. I'm so glad she chose to work with you
- Please give updates when people are traveling and what is happening
- WE NEED ADVENTURE IN OUR LIVES
- Updates on travel bans/changes outside of the US
- Stay awesome
- Keep us up to date on precautions the destinations are taking
- Don't go out of business (Ha, thank you!)
- I love how open and honest you are, Keep it up and thanks for sharing all of your tips!
- Present flexible options for insurance/ refunds should our plans change
- Stay safe until we can travel again
- Tips & tricks for adapting to this new way of life
- Make COVID-19 go away? Please?
- A monthly travel outlook would be cool: border openings, destination updates, etc.
- I'd like to go to UNICO (so would I!)
- Keep the information coming!
- I'd like to know how things will change in the future: Do I need to buy my plane tickets further in advance or closer to my travel dates? Is my health at a higher risk at a resort?
- What locations are offering amazing prices to bolster tourist revenue?
after the survey: what happens next?
I really enjoyed reading the survey results and I'm SO glad that we sent it. It was encouraging (and helpful!) to see that there is still so much excitement for travel, especially during this absolutely insane time. On a personal note, it was uplifting to read so many positive comments at the end. There have been some tough days in the travel industry lately; reading your comments gave me fuel to keep moving forward.
As for future content, I am planning blog posts, IGTV interviews and other updates around the three main topics people mentioned:
- What hotels/airlines are doing to keep us safe
- Destination Updates
- Tips to Make Your Trips More Flexible/How to Protect Your Trip Investment with Travel Insurance.
Many of these updates will be posted right here on the blog. A few interviews and other meaty topics will be shared on our IGTV and YouTube channels. Stay tuned for more details!
Have a great week and stay safe,
P.S. Did this survey light a fire under you? Is it time to start planning that new trip? Click below to get started!
Looking Ahead: How are travel agents preparing for travel after covid-19?
When it's time to travel again, we will all want peace of mind to ensure the health and safety of our families. Travel agents are hard at work, preparing for travel after COVID-19. We are learning everything we can about how airlines, hotels and resorts are preparing to welcome guests again.
In the past few weeks, the travel industry has made incredible strides to prepare for our new normal. I joke that the "We care!" emails from travel partners have quickly morphed into "We clean!" emails. Everyone is covering this topic, including this great video recap from Travel & Leisure.
Here are some of the changes we're seeing airlines and hotels take so that guests can still receive the very best vacation experience possible.
Note: This info is subject to change at any time. If you have future travel plans, please follow your airlines and resorts closely for updates. As always, I am here to help if you have questions!
WHAT TRAVEL AGENTS ARE LEARNING ABOUT AIRPORTS + AIRLINES AND COVID-19
Airlines and airports are taking the necessary precautions to protect travelers during and after the COVID-19 outbreak. For example, in addition to increased sanitation standards, you'll find that many airports will adhere to the following:
- Allowing only ticketed passengers in terminals
- Face mask usage for travelers and airport employees
- In some airports, implementing disinfection tunnels and thermal scanners
- In some airports, TSA is creating scheduled time-slots for security to prevent large crowds from gathering
- Additional health screening upon check-in
- Protective plexiglass barriers at gates
- Taped arrows to direct foot traffic in for proper social distancing
- Touchless boarding check-in
With regard to flying, here's what we're seeing some airlines implement thus far:
- Aircraft are being equipped with state-of-the-art air circulation systems to help filter in fresh air
- Some are also installing a new fogging system to disinfect all transoceanic flights
- Increased sanitation of all seating, tray tables, tv screens, food carts, and other common areas
Other airlines are implementing a face mask requirement for all employees and passengers. These requirements are subject to change, but currently include:
- Alaska Airlines
- Delta Airlines
- Frontier Airlines
- Spirit Airlines
- Southwest Airlines
- United Airlines
- Air Canada
Some airlines strongly advise face masks for all travelers. These airlines include:
- Allegiant Air
WHAT TRAVEL AGENTS ARE LEARNING ABOUT Resorts + Hotels AND COVID-19
You can expect many hotels to be very proactive about their health and safety efforts moving forward. In addition to their typical cleaning protocols, many resorts like Unico, Palace, Royalton, and Palladium are raising the bar to keep their guests safe. More specifically, you'll find that many properties are:
- Implementing touchless check-in processes, including new check-in apps
- Increasing the frequency of cleaning in public spaces, such as the lobby, front desk, and public bathrooms
- Adjusting how restaurants serve guests, from reservation based dining to staff-served buffets or pre-portioned "grab and go" items
- Increasing room service options
- Installing hand sanitation stations throughout the resort
- Temperature checks among guests and employees in high traffic areas to ensure everyone is healthy
- Implementation of social distancing guidelines and capacity control
- New and improved food safety and sanitation procedures
- Air filtration and sanitation systems to disinfect the air
- Prompt staff care, training, and awareness
WHAT TRAVEL AGENTS ARE LEARNING ABOUT ALL-INCLUSIVE RESORT REOPENING DATES
As of now, we know of a few destinations that have plans for re-opening. Of course, these dates could change at any time, but this is what we know so far:
- Aruba: Many destinations targeting a June 15 or July 1 open date
- Cancun, Mexico: Many resorts targeting a June 15 or July 1 open date
- Cozumel, Mexico: Many resorts targeting a July 1 open date
- Costa Rica: Many resorts targeting a late June or early July open date
- Dominican Republic: Many resorts targeting a July 1 open date
- Jamaica: Many resorts targeting a June 1 open date
- Los Cabos, Mexico: Many resorts targeting late June opening dates
- Puerto Vallarta, Mexico: Most resorts targeting a July 1 open date
- St. Lucia: Many resorts targeting a mid-June open date
- Other Caribbean: Many destinations are targeting mid-June
READY TO PLAN YOUR NEXT VACATION?
Here's what I've learned about humans and travel during this COVID-19 crisis:
Travel Agents are among the most impacted by COVID-19. As we all learn to navigate these uncharted waters, Travel Agents are at the forefront, learning everything we can about how to navigate the new normal. What a time to be alive, am I right?
Travel is an essential part of being human and I'm priviliged to work with clients every day to make their travel dreams come true.
It's a challenging time to be a travel advisor in this Coronavirus world, but I'm choosing to look forward.
1. People WILL travel again, and they now see the value of a professional travel agent.
I am confident that once this Coronavirus situation is behind us, people will be ready to experience the world once more. Families will take vacations, new brides and grooms will take honeymoons and engaged couples will dream of Destination Weddings in a post COVID-19 time.After every single major economic or epidemic event (SARS, H1N1, 9/11, etc) people have bounced back. We are human beings who are curious and social by nature. There is too much of this beautiful world to see and this too shall pass.
2. PEOPLE ARE STILL INHERENTLY KIND
Over the last 7 days, the entire travel industry has taken a massive hit, as has nearly every job sector in the world. However, I have also seen incredible acts of thoughtfulness, patience and kindness. I am LOVING "Some Good News" right now!
A huge thank you to everyone who has checked in on me, Megan and our families during this situation. We are bone weary and ready for cocktails, but we are staying upbeat!We are also incredibly grateful for our supplier, hotel and destination partners. It takes a village to make this industry happen and we do not forget the long hours that our travel partners are working, often without any hope of income for several months.
3. PEOPLE ARE POSTPONING TRIPS, NOT CANCELING TRIPS
As a professional travel agent, I am incredibly grateful for this as it will save the economies of so many beautiful destinations. To date, I have only had four cancellations for 2020. Yes, we have been working frantically to reschedule nearly 200 guests for March, but nearly everyone has rescheduled. This warms my heart as I see the confidence everyone has that the world will bounce back.
4. YES THERE IS A DARK SIDE, BUT WE WILL PRESS FORWARD.
The news is overwhelming, fear can bring out the worst in humans and we've seen instances of unkind behavior and even downright fraud. However, I believe this is limited to a subset of people and this will work itself out. #karma
We are all afraid of the unknown. We are all nervous about the future. Did you know that travel adivsors are only compensated when a client actually travels? That’s right, we don’t get paid until the trip is taken.
This means that every travel agent out there is working hard, advocating for clients, refunding money, securing future trip credits and not making a penny to support their families. I am personally working 15+ hour days without any income coming in, all to care for my existing clients. I do this because I care about the well being of each and every one of those travelers.
It’s a huge differentiating factor of booking with a real life human professional vs. an impersonal, uncaring OTA. I believe this challenging time will demonstrate that more than ever. I continue to push forward because I have faith that we will persevere.
That said, we all need to keep our mental health in check. I recommend taking time off from social media, switching off the news and getting fresh air when you can. I find that I need to "reset" several times during the day when things are overwhelming. Virtual happy hours help .... if you'd like to join one, let me know!
5. ALPACA YOUR BAGS TRAVEL IS BUSIER THAN EVER
Alpaca Your Bags Travel is busier than EVER. Right now, we are focusing on rescheduling March bookings for later in 2020. This means that we are dealing with exhusting, 3-5 hour hold times, navigating new policies and providing updates to clients, doing the hard work so you don't have to!Yes, people are still planning trips.
In the last week alone, we have booked five destination weddings for 2021. The industry will come back and in full force.In fact, we are already seeing sell out dates in late 2020 and early 2021. As people postpone their plans, future travel dates are booking out faster than ever.If you have day dreams of getting out of town when this is over, NOW IS THE TIME to book! Vendors are increasingly flexible with their policies and its a great time to find a deal. I predict that Holiday 2020 and Spring Break 2021 will sell out faster than ever.
On behalf of myself, Megan and our families, we wish everyone healthy and peaceful weeks ahead. We are monitoring the COVID-19 situation hourly and will be here for everyone when its time to #keepcalmandtravelon From the bottom of my heart, I thank you for your continued support.
Honeymoon Expert Travel Agent Will Visit Puerto Vallarta in 2019!
As a destination wedding and honeymoon expert, I have been accepted to the 2019 Romance Travel Forum! This is my third time attending this prestigious, application only event. Each year, this event receives thousands of applications, but only one hundred travel agents are chosen. This time, the RTF conference will be in charming Puerto Vallarta, Mexico (one of my all-time favorite honeymoon destinations!
Why Should You Choose a Honeymoon Travel Agent?
Travel agents who specialize in honeymoon travel are among the top in their field. Here's how we can help you be a honeymoon hero:
- We know the best honeymoon destinations and resorts that will wow your fiance
- We can help you find the most romantic room types, setting the mood for a memorable, once-in-a-lifetime trip
- We know the best activities, creating that perfect mix of adventure and relaxation
- We can help you get the most bang-for-your-buck by planning a honeymoon that meets your budget
- We can help with frequently asked questions, such as questions about maiden names on passports, if you should use your maiden name on your honeymoon airline ticket, etc.
How Was I Chosen For This Event?
As a recognized leader in the romance vacation market, I was personally chosen from travel sellers from across the US and Canada to be among this select group of top professionals. With my destination wedding and honeymoon clients in mind, I’ll be experiencing first-hand all that Riviera Nayarit has to offer including attractions and visits to the most sought-after hotel properties.
I’ll also have the chance to meet with travel partners on a global level, representing the most romantic destinations, vacations and much more. These relationships are part of the personal service I offer my clients.
Stay tuned- May will be here before we know it!
It’s National Travel Agent Day! We made this quick video to celebrate all of the benefits you get when working with a travel agent.