As travel restrictions are lifted and more destinations are reopening to the public, travel advisors continue to work diligently for their clients.
While some brands have dropped the ball, many companies within the industry have gone above and beyond for travel advisors when it mattered the most. The agents who have worked tirelessly since the coronavirus outbreak began are now sharing their positive stories.
One of the groups making a huge splash is the American Society of Travel Advisors (ASTA), which has gone to bat for agents. Cruise Holidays owner Shari Marsh spoke about the help the agency has provided.
“I give credit to ASTA, they have been lobbying for true support and keeping us informed every step of the way,” Marsh told TravelPulse. “This is the best communication I’ve ever seen ASTA do in all my years. They are really digging in and letting us know exactly what they are doing, how they are doing it and the results they are getting.”
Advisors are also thankful for their host agencies, as Bella Travel Planning owner Becky Lukovic shared.
“Travel Experts, my host agency, who have gone above and beyond in their support for us,” Lukovic said. “They have been creative with adding a webpage for us to access all the ever-changing COVID policies for suppliers, airlines, and countries, backing us up when we need a bit of extra influence, and being generous with their advisors with a temporary reduction of fees.”
“I am beyond blessed to be a part of their family,” Lukovic continued. “And it’s truly a family.”
In addition, advisors also mentioned Delta Vacations as a company working diligently to reimburse customers and help make life easier during such a rough period.
Love to Travel owner Kim Cook also highlighted Vacation Express and Playa Resorts.
“Vacation Express tops of the list! Their communication and minimal wait times made them a true partner,” Cook said. “Their President was on a Facebook group throughout the crisis answering travel agent questions. Pretty amazing!”
“Playa Resorts is another, with their new travel agent portal and relaxed cancellation penalties,” Cook continued. “Their sales group was easy to contact for support as they didn’t lay off anyone.”
One of the industries hit hardest by the viral pandemic has been cruises, but several companies have used the opportunity to lend a helping hand to the advisors struggling to adjust to the new normal.
“The CEO of Silversea, Roberto Martinoli prepared a seemingly heartfelt video message to all consultants explaining the bond between agent and supplier and pledging full commission and marketing support,” Richard Bruce Turen from Churchill & Turen said. “It was a moving look straight in the camera video and few of us will forget it.”
TravelEdge luxury travel advisor James Ferguson also spoke about his experience.
“Holland America Line is leading the way regarding Future Cruise Credit (FCC) offering 200 percent on deposited bookings, and as such saving many cancellations in converting them into future rebookings through 2022,” Ferguson said.
Disney Cruise Line was also mentioned for its quick actions by several advisors, including Oliver McClellan of Dream Vacations.
“I love how fast Disney provided refunds to customers. Some of my customers had to wait 30-60 days for refunds, but Disney refunds were back on customer’s credit cards in around seven days,” McClellan said.
Expedia CruiseShip Centers advisor Karen Rutter spoke about the cruise industry as a whole and how companies like Princess Cruises, Royal Caribbean and Norwegian Cruise Line are making their job a lot easier.
“They have been working with travel advisors to be proactive by holding webinars, sending out frequent updates and being responsive to calls so that travel advisors are well versed, know cancellation policies and dates of canceled cruises,” Rutter said. “They are offering some big incentives with future travel credits. Some are offering 125 percent travel credit along with free drinks, gratuities, free Wi-Fi, and OBC (onboard credit).”
“For an unprecedented event in our history, I believe companies have been extremely responsive with great attitudes toward doing what is best for the customer,” Rutter continued. “They are to be commended.”
Advisors told TravelPulse other companies who are doing a superb job right now include: Sandals Resorts, Palace Resorts, Club Med, Intrepid Travel, G Adventures and Carnival.
The motto “We’re all in this together” has been uttered an immeasurable amount of times throughout the coronavirus outbreak. While it can ring hollow at times, the travel advisor community has stood together and will come out of this pandemic stronger and more resilient than ever.
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