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.