To assist agency owners and advisors in dealing with the impact of the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, Travel Leaders Group has been offering guidance, training, ongoing communications and other resources to its company brands worldwide. It's also offering tips for travel advisors as they navigate the crisis.
Monty Swaney, co-president, Tzell Travel Group, is recommending that travel advisors stay in touch with their clients who may be cancelling or rebooking to show they are there and ready to support them with travel when the time is right. He adds it’s important to share information and best practices among the travel advisor community.
“Listen and understand travelers’ desires and be clear about the options available,” said Michael Heflin, SVP of the Hotel Division at Travel Leaders Group. “Support your travelers and educate them on their options. Explore outside the norms to make adapting to the changing environment easier, specifically consider “stay-cation” or drive market options. One of the recommendations we have been giving is evaluating villa and private property options. Villas provide travelers with the opportunity to get out of their home but in a more controlled environment, with the benefit of formal management structure and many of the service benefits of a hotel.”
Similarly, Karen Magee, VP, partnerships and leisure services, Tzell Travel Group, says to consider “more remote areas like an island destinations, national parks or mountain retreats.”
Some other tips Travel Leaders Group recommends includes:
- Advising your clients to stay informed and up to date on information from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the World Health Organization and U.S. State Department
- Informing the client of supplier policies and any cancellation penalties; let the client know that in some cases, suppliers are revising policies to be more flexible
- Asking the client if they would like you to explore alternative destinations that other clients are considering, such as Mexico, the Caribbean, Hawaii, Alaska, other U.S. destinations
- Offering the client the option of moving their trip to a future date
- Recommending travel insurance—but be clear that only Cancel for Any Reason insurance will allow them to change their plans once the payment deadlines pass.