We in the travel industry will never forget the day when the World Health Organization (WHO) has declared COVID-19 as a pandemic disease as of March 11, 2020 and chaos broke out in the travel market. All of a sudden flights were cancelled, airports were closed down, resorts and destinations were shut down and even countries had to close their borders from one day to another. Travelers in the middle of their vacation had to interrupt their journey and try to fly back home urgently. But it was not easy to find any airline still operating. Passengers spent countless hours on the phone trying to reach someone, anyone who can assist with their changing reservations. On the other hand, those who had their booking made by a travel advisor simply called the direct line and could contact their agent within minutes. Actually, the spring of 2020 made people realize why they should have booked their holiday with a travel agency.
The year 2020 has been a nightmare for everybody working in the travel business. Since March 11, 2020 the whole year consisted of closures, phased reopenings, ever-changing travel restrictions and endless amounts of shcedule changes and booking modifications or cancellations. The entry requirements vary from country to country and it is not easy to follow them all. Some destinations require a negative PCR test result no older than 72 hours, others only allow visitors from certain areas and certain places even require a specific type of travel insurance or a second PCR test upon arrival. And what makes the situation even more complicated is that the rules are constantly changing. Travel consultants have this knowledge at the tip of their fingers and they are continuously staying up to date with the changes.
They have direct contacts for airlines, resorts and destinations, so it does not take long for them to reach the person they need. They offer their clients flexible itineraries and advise them to have a comprehensive travel insurance covering all types of emergency issues with international coverage for COVID-19. Recently, CDC announced that a negative COVID-19 test is required for air travelers entering the United States. Passengers rushed to their phones to call airlines and resorts to find out the details. Even before this news reached the public consciousness, agents had already adivsed all of their clients and provided them the necessary information. Although we could not wait for the New Year to arrive, 2021 is not going to be much different than 2020 concering preventive measures. This global pandemic caused uncertaincy worldwide so it is still challenging to make a holiday now but it is not impossible!
Moving into 2021 travel advisors will be a vital part of the travel booking process, more than ever. So far there were two obvious reasons for working with a travel consultant – saving time and money – but 2020 made it clear that we absolutelly need them for other even more important reasons. These days, I as a travel advisor for 16 years, offer my clients package tours organised by leading tour operator companies since a reliable tour operator will help you in case of an emergency.
In November 2020 my clients spent their 15-day-long honeymoon in Barbados when all of a sudden the airline cancelled their return flight. The local representative of the tour operator got in touch with the clients immidately and handled the situation in a professional way. Finally they were offered an alternative route flying by another airline at expensive cost but the tour operator assumed the costs and bought the new air tickets for the clients. These oneway tickets cost the double their original return ticktets.
If you have not worked with a travel agent in the past, it is high time to do so.