An unprecedented hurricane season was only the start of the headaches for the travel industry this year. Multiple earthquakes across the globe, domestic wildfires and, now, the threat of a volcano erupting are all factoring into the mix.
A new survey by Virtuoso reveals insights on consumer reactions to show the wide-ranging impact on tourism. The travel agency network also tapped into the wisdom of its professional travel advisors to find the best advice for dealing with disrupted vacations.
- Sixty-two percent of advisors had clients impacted by Hurricane Irma. Of those, 54 percent rebooked their travel plans for the Caribbean and Florida. Advisors also assisted clients who needed to evacuate from their homes.
- Eighty percent of respondents said that Hurricane Irma has had the greatest impact on bookings, impacting both short- and long-term travel requests. Hurricanes Maria and Harvey, ongoing terrorist attacks, and earthquakes in Mexico and Japan as events also factored into bookings.
- Forty-six percent of advisors reported that clients are now seeking warm-weather destinations outside of the paths of Hurricanes Irma and Maria, including: unaffected Caribbean islands (28 percent) such as St. Lucia, Aruba, Curacao, Jamaica, Barbados and Grand Cayman; Mexico (22 percent); and even Hawaii, Central America, South America, Europe, Southern California and other U.S. southern states.
- Twenty-five percent of advisors reported that clients are not requesting Caribbean and Florida travel for the next one to six months, suggesting they are taking a wait-and-see approach to booking their trips.
If travelers do find themselves impacted by hurricanes or other natural disasters, there are some ways to safeguard their vacation investment, said Virtuoso’s experts.
- Seventy-one percent of Virtuoso advisors recommended purchasing “cancel for any reason” travel insurance, as other policies may not include weather-related issues or natural disasters.
- Another 57 percent suggested avoiding travel to hurricane-prone areas from late August to late September, which is when the season can see the most activity.
- Other advice from Virtuoso’s experts included canceling plans to affected areas and rebooking elsewhere as early as possible. Purchasing refundable airline tickets will make that shift much easier.