Our top advice for people with travel booked – or considering travel – is to stay calm. And work with a trusted, expert travel advisor when you’re making travel plans.
The COVID-19 pandemic will pass. Until then, the global travel scenario will continue to change daily.
A responsible, qualified, and professional travel advisor will always:
1. Only use and refer you to credible sources of information with expert and reasoned advice.
Some of your friends at work, strangers on social media and less professional media are sharing gossip and spreading hysteria. They are making a difficult situation worse.
Here are three official travel advisory sources used by travel suppliers, insurers and others to make decisions about canceling trips and providing coverage.
- The highly respected Centers for Disease Control and Prevention travel notices are located here.
- The Government of Canada’s official travel information can be found here; and
- The United States’ State Department advisories are published here.
2. Have the best, most up-to-date information from travel suppliers, airlines, insurers and other members of the travel industry you need to get you where you’re going, get you help, or get you home.
As the COVID situation rapidly evolves, there have been nearly daily changes to travel itineraries, schedules, as well as cancellations and modified policies affecting payment and cancellation of travel plans.
Your travel advisor gets this information first. And they get it from the source; from those cruise lines, airlines, tour companies, travel insurance providers and others.
And agencies have direct access to travel supplier company officials to get answers, and help solve specific, individual cases. Like yours.
3. Pick up the phone. Or return your email.
Someone said to us the other day, “I feel sorry for people travelling right now who didn’t use a travel agent. Who are they going to call?”
Crisis is showing up the limitations of online travel agencies. Without a personal contact who has a vested interest in you as a customer, you can find yourself waiting forever for an answer to your email, on hold for hours, or passed from one person who can’t help to another.
Travel advisors are people. Your neighbors. Your community members. They take your travel needs and problems personally, and most of all, they are responsive when problems arise.
4. Employ travel industry best practices to best protect your safety, your health, your investment, and your peace of mind, like:
- Staying up to date with Terms and Conditions for each supplier in a client’s itinerary particularly those concerning refunds or penalties for changes and cancellations;
- Encouraging you to book travel with a credit card. Depending on your card’s terms and conditions, it may offer added securities;
- Offering and explaining to you different types of travel insurance – including medical travel insurance and trip cancellation insurance - and what it covers; and
- Remaining compliant with their legal responsibilities, which in some places include disclosing conditions that may influence your decision to purchase, or advising you of changing travel conditions.
COVID-19 may be new, but serious global events having an impact on the world of travel are not new.
Experienced travel agencies have company experience, and often advisors with personal knowledge of dealing with crises like SARS, 9/11, and hurricanes that have disrupted large numbers of travellers.
Those are the experts you need in your corner, not just when there is a global health crisis. A qualified, expert travel advisor always adds value to your travel plans. But they are indispensable when things don’t go as planned.
World travel will return to a new normal when COVID-19 ebbs. Don’t let it hijack your travel or your travel dreams. Work with a travel advisor to make a thoughtful, appropriate, best plan for your next trip.