Author Archives: TravelPulse.com Travel Agent Headlines

Travel Industry Leaders React to Stimulus Bill

Travel industry leaders remain optimistic and hopeful that President Trump’s $2 trillion stimulus package – which features billions for the industry, including airlines and travel agents – will jump-start economic relief for the beleaguered sector.“(It’s) exactly the type of support that we have been calling for at the WTTC to ensure the survival of the travel and tourism industry,” World Travel & Tourism Council CEO Gloria Guevara said in a statement. “Across the world, we will continue to advocate for all businesses, large and small, across aviation, cruising lodging, travel companies and all involved in the travel chain in order to ensure that they have the financial support that they need to survive and to prevent economic devastation to the entire sector.” Trending Now Airlines will receive more than $50 billion while travel agencies will be able to take advantage of several provisions within the bill as the Treasury Secretary can make up to $25 billion in loans, loan guarantees and other investments in support of passenger airlines, “ticket agents” (the statutory term for travel agencies) and other related aviation industries.“The coronavirus pandemic has proved to be the biggest challenge ever faced by ASTA and its members,” said Zane Kerby, president and CEO of the American Society of Travel Advisors (ASTA). “Over the past few weeks, we have worked hand-in-hand with our 13,000 members to secure the maximum amount of relief for the travel agency community in this package. The fact that travel agencies are included in the airline assistance portion of the bill is a huge win and means that Congress heeded our call to include our members in any targeted travel industry relief. We are also heartened by the outpouring of support from the industry, including over 28,000 grassroots messages to legislators through ASTA.org, and feel strongly that our efforts made a significant difference in the size and scope of relief options in the bill.”J.D. O'Hara, CEO of Travel Leaders Group, congratulated ASTA in a statement for its success in winning support for travel agencies and small businesses."ASTA is to be commended for spearheading an effective lobbying and grassroots victory. Thousands of travel advisors around the country heeded ASTA’s call and made their voices heard,” O'Hara said. Association of Flight Attendants President Sara Nelson, representing 50,000 flight attendants at 20 airlines, praised Congress for passing a package that includes direct financial assistance for airline workers' wages and benefits.But Nelson also has a bigger scope beyond just aviation.“We have a lot of work to do in coordination with other people right in our communities and around the globe. We will especially work together to help our medical professionals on the frontlines. We need relief for other industries to protect working people since our futures are tied to each other,” she said in a statement. “Attacking the virus to end the healthcare crisis requires all of us working together and enabling our economy to rebound from this financial crisis requires strengthening everyone in our country. Our work creates the value of our businesses. We are the consumers and the taxpayers. Most importantly, we are the mothers, fathers, daughters, sons, siblings and dear friends who love and cherish each other.”Guevara agreed.“The continued partnership between governments and the private sector around the world is crucial for the survival and economic recovery of the entire global sector,” she said. “In the USA, we are continuing to partner with the U.S. Travel Association to support all efforts for a rapid pathway to economic recovery.” Let's block ads! (Why?)

ASTA Webinar: How Your Business Can Apply for CARES Act Financial Assistance

Travel agents who could currently use a helping hand will want to log on to the American Society of Travel Advisors’ (ASTA) upcoming webinar on Friday, March 27, 2020, at 2:00 p.m. ET to learn all about the new forms of financial and regulatory relief being made available to businesses through Congress’ new 'Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security' (CARES) Act.Through an unprecedented grassroots and lobbying effort, ASTA has been petitioning Congress, and successfully impacted the size and scope of the relief options afforded by the new bill. Trending Now In this exclusive webinar, experts who helped shape this legislation will present detailed information on the bill’s provisions and offer insight to help agents understand what options are available to them in terms of government-issued financial assistance, which options best suit their business and how they can begin the process of application.Due to anticipated high traffic volumes, if viewers are unable to access the live presentation, please note that all registrants will also receive an emailed link to the recorded version immediately following the webinar, which will also be posted on the ASTA website’s Video Resources Library. Travel advisors are invited to register here. For more information, visit asta.org/webinars. Let's block ads! (Why?)

Ensemble to Reduce Workforce During COVID-19 Crisis

Ensemble Travel Group said it will reduce its workforce temporarily by approximately 50 percent in the U.S. and Canada, as a result of “the complete disruption to the travel industry due to the COVID-19 pandemic.”“This is perhaps one of the most difficult decisions a CEO has to make,” said David Harris, CEO of Ensemble Travel Group. Trending Now “While Ensemble is a solid company, there is just no way to minimize the devastating impact that COVID-19 has had on our industry in such a short period of time. Our employees are an integral part of our business, but the reality of the moment is that life as we knew it is on pause, with travel being one of the hardest-hit economic sectors. Our hope and intention are that this is a temporary situation while the world stays home to flatten the curve and that as life returns to normal in the next few months, our company will be able to quickly resume regular operations."“We know this is an incredibly stressful time for everyone,” Harris added. “Of course, we hope that everyone heeds the advice of the professionals and stays safe and healthy. At the same time, I know we all look towards brighter days for our industry and our company and hope that these difficult but necessary measures will help position us to recover as quickly and efficiently as possible.”Ensemble Travel Group is a member-owned organization of about 850 independent travel agencies in the U.S. and Canada; it expanded into Australia and New Zealand in 2014. The organization's U.S. office is in New York City; Canadian offices are in Toronto and Montréal; the Australia/New Zealand office is in Sydney. Let's block ads! (Why?)

How Travel Agents Are Coping With COVID-19, Preparing for Recovery

In anticipation of the economic recovery that’s bound to follow once the COVID-19 health crisis abates, Development Counsellors International (DCI)—a leading travel and economic development marketing firm—looked to travel advisors to discover the ways in which they’re coping, and how marketing organizations might best help agents to prepare and position themselves well for the industry’s rebound.A group of 457 travel advisors, 73 percent of whom hailed from the United States and 27 percent from Canada, participated in a March 2020 survey to provide some insight into the challenges agents currently face, and what their present needs and future expectations might be. Trending Now Current ClimateAmid the onslaught of travel notices and restrictions, border closures, and transportation shutdowns that have occurred over the past several weeks, travel advisors been kept busy—perhaps even more so than usual.79 percent of advisors reported that they now spend the majority of their working hours rescheduling client bookings, and 71 percent of advisors reported spending much of their time providing their clients with reassurance, relevant up-to-date information, and clarification on new restrictions or policies.A staggering 90 percent of respondents reported seeing cancellations of existing bookings and 82 percent have seen a decline in future 2020 bookings. While some share of clients may cancel entirely, 64 percent of advisors have also seen clients looking to postpone and reschedule their travel plans.53 percent of those surveyed said they’ve seen a decline in interest in 2021 trips, though it’s impossible at the moment to make accurate predictions about such far-reaching effects of the coronavirus on travel.Despite the pervasive air of uncertainty affecting everyone at present, North American travel advisors’ outlook for the near future seems optimistic, as evidenced by their reported anticipation of returning to business mostly-as-usual within the next few months.Maintaining MomentumAlthough at present they’re largely focused on mitigating fallout from the coronavirus epidemic, travel advisors are also apparently readying themselves for the time when travel resumes its normal pace.The research showed that agents are demonstrating a marked interest in pursuing professional development opportunities, such as specialist courses and webinars. 38 percent reported that they’re actively engaging in these types of continuing education during the slowdown.Since trade shows and FAM trips are all on hold, advisors are finding their own ways of staying updated on the products and destinations they sell; which is why DCI suggests that DMOs and operators ought to keep their websites and online marketing materials continuously refreshed, so that agents can be set to start selling once travel resumes.Future ForecastThe data clearly shows that the majority of travel advisors are eager to get back to business as usual and attend events, at least in their home markets. Nearly one-third of respondents said they anticipate participating in destination sales events within their home markets as early as May 2020, with that number jumping to almost 60 percent who expect that it will happen by June.In terms of taking a FAM trip, advisors seemed slightly more hesitant. For domestic trips, 26 percent of advisors mostly said they’d be willing to take a FAM trip within the U.S. by June, 18 percent by May. It will take a bit longer for them to reestablish enough confidence to volunteer for international FAMs, with a majority of respondents indicating that September is the earliest they’d consider traveling outside the U.S. Yet, more than 30 percent still said they would contemplate doing so by May or June. For more information, visit aboutdci.com. Let's block ads! (Why?)

Massive Coronavirus Relief Package Includes Assistance for Travel Advisors

Congress and the Trump Administration have come to an agreement on a massive $2 trillion bill that includes assistance for travel advisors affected by the coronavirus outbreak.The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act is expected to pass both chambers of Congress and be signed into law by President Trump in the coming days. “The coronavirus pandemic has proved to be the biggest challenge ever faced by ASTA and its members,” said Zane Kerby, president and CEO of the American Society of Travel Advisors (ASTA). “Over the past few weeks, we have worked hand-in-hand with our 13,000 members to secure the maximum amount of relief for the travel agency community in this package. The fact that travel agencies are included in the airline assistance portion of the bill is a huge win and means that Congress heeded our call to include our members in any targeted travel industry relief. We are also heartened by the outpouring of support from the industry, including over 28,000 grassroots messages to legislators through ASTA.org, and feel strongly that our efforts made a significant difference in the size and scope of relief options in the bill.” Trending Now Travel agencies will be able to take advantage of several provisions within the bill:Travel Agencies Eligible for Airline Economic Stabilization Loans ($25 billion)The Treasury Secretary can make up to $25 billion in loans, loan guarantees and other investments in support of passenger airlines, “ticket agents” (the statutory term for travel agencies) and other related aviation businesses.ASTA will work with both Treasury and Transportation Departments to implement this provision.Small Business Interruption Loans/Paycheck Protection Program ($349 billion) A new U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) loan program will provide loans of up to $10 million will be available to U.S. businesses under the existing SBA size standards ($22 million in annual revenue) or with 500 or fewer employees. Independent contractors and the self-employed are eligible.These loans have no collateral or personal guaranty requirements and portions of these loans that cover payroll, mortgage, rent or utility expenses from February 15 to June 30 may be eligible for forgiveness in whole or in part.Economic Stabilization Loans for Severely Distressed Sectors ($425 billion)This is a separate loan program through the U.S. Treasury Department where businesses can obtain low- or no-interest loans and loan guarantees if they incurred losses directly or indirectly as a result of coronavirus.ASTA notes that this relief is only open to a “business that has not otherwise received adequate economic relief in the form of loans or loan guarantees provided under this Act,” indicating that businesses could not also apply for the new SBA program mentioned above.Unemployment Benefits for the Self-EmployedThe CARES Act also provides up to 39 weeks of unemployment insurance benefits to people not otherwise eligible for regular unemployment compensation (including the self-employed and those who have exhausted their regular benefits).This portion of the bill was a priority for ASTA since there are around 40,000 independent contractors working in the industry and these individuals don’t have access to federal or state unemployment benefits.The bill could still change and ASTA will be monitoring its passage in the coming days. The organization will also be analyzing the relief package and its provisions and is planning to hold a webinar on Friday, March 27 at 3 p.m. ET to provide members with its preliminary analysis. Let's block ads! (Why?)

Lesser-Known Destinations You Can Learn to Sell Through Travel Agent Academy

Travel Agent Academy offers a wide range of specialist programs for travel advisors looking to expand their expertise and take their business to new heights, including immersive courses focused on destinations, hotels and resorts, cruise lines, tour operators, luxury experiences and even services. Although travel has been put on hold for most amid the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, there are a handful of lesser-known destinations that advisors can become experts on in the meantime. Let's block ads! (Why?)

Travel Institute Provides Tips and Tools for Travel Advisors

WHY IT RATES: The Travel Institute is providing a number of ways and ideas or travel advisors during this downtime. —Janeen Christoff, TravelPulse Senior WriterMuch of the world is at an unprecedented standstill with COVID-19, and this situation remains fluid. We can’t predict the future, but we do know that travel professionals are resilient and will recover. As things slow down, many of us are likely to be left with unfamiliar, quiet office days before travel rebounds. How we manage through these days will make an important difference for us as individuals, and for our travel industry, long after the crisis has passed. Now more than ever, we are committed to doing what we do best: provide timely, relevant and accurate education on topics that advance your knowledge and skills. And so, in an effort to help you:MORE Travel Agent —The Travel Institute is offering its Business Planning learning module free of charge on our home page through April 15. You plan for clients all the time, and now you may have time to plan for yourself. From client databases and testimonials, to marketing and communication plans, skill development, relationship building and more, you will learn how to analyze your current situation, plan for future opportunities, identify and set goals, and develop plans to achieve those goals.—The Travel Institute is also supporting you with expanded, complimentary educational webinars on a variety of topics through April. Topics include networking best practices when you can’t leave home, marketing via Facebook, tips on staying productive during downtime, romance travel being more than honeymoons and destination weddings, and more. Check the webinar calendar on our home page daily as new topics are added, based on needs and requests.Clearly, many travel professionals are also dealing with a myriad of personal and family concerns that must take priority. For those who have time, here are a few more proactive ideas to ready yourself and your travel business for an eventual rebound:—Keep Networking. While we are practicing social distance, our world is built for easy, virtual connections. Join Facebook groups with your host agency, consortia, agency, The Travel Institute, and other travel professional communities to support each other through this. Give as much as you get. With clients, learn how to livestream, blog or podcast short 10-minute destination clips and other strategies to keep clients engaged.Connect with your suppliers and gain or refresh your knowledge on those products you have been wanting to sell.—Start and/or Finish Certification. For those who need more time, you likely have it right now. If the CTA designation is your goal, join the private study group on Facebook so that you have a network of support as you focus on this goal.—If You Have a Team. Take a proactive assessment of current capabilities. Who needs training? What needs organizing? What processes can be improved? What can be done to improve business?—Consider Specialist Training. While travelers are not traveling much now, soon many will be eager to take the trips they postponed. Be sure you are armed with the geographic, product, and niche education you will need to service them. Immerse yourself in destinations you have been interested in learning about. Take the time to discover what you’re most passionate about in travel and pursue it.—Organize your thoughts. From travel insurance plans to alternate destinations to the specifics of a country your travelers found themselves in while in need, how could you use the knowledge gained during this experience to better serve your clients in the future?—Start a routine. If you’re working from home, set your alarm and plan your day as usual. Get dressed and take appointments, even if by phone.—Feel the support. Yes, we are in this together. There are people behind those corporate messages in your inbox. We are here too, and at The Travel Institute that means Diane, Brian, Carla, Carolyn, Guida, Lisa, Pat, Patty, Rich, Shannon, Steven, Suzanne, Taylor, and Vanessa. Let us know how you are doing and if you have additional tips or advice for peers.The Travel Institute offers education that advances travel professionals anytime, everywhere. Continuing to develop and deliver that education is how we will best support you during this challenging time. Explore our training options while you have the unexpected time to do so. Our mission is your success and, together, we will navigate this challenge to become more capable than ever for our industry and for the traveling public. SOURCE: The Travel Institute press release. Let's block ads! (Why?)

Travel Agent Superheroes: Going Above and Beyond for Clients Amid the Coronavirus Outbreak

If there’s any silver lining to the coronavirus outbreak, it’s that more travelers will recognize that professional travel advisors are worth their weight in gold – especially during a crisis.Over recent weeks, as borders shut down and travel ground to a halt, travel agents canceled, rebooked, counseled and rescued their clients. To illustrate their importance and professionalism, TravelPulse is sharing stories of Virtuoso travel agent heroics during the coronavirus outbreak. Trending Now Working From a Hospital BedNikki Miner, president of Creating Travel Dreams, an affiliate of Andavo Travel based in Ankeny, Iowa, literally handled her clients’ problems from a hospital bed. She was hooked up to an IV while juggling a work phone, a personal phone and a laptop to arrange for clients to get home early.“I was texting with the client on my personal phone and had the supplier on my work phone with my computer logged in using my hotspot,” she said. “While I was making the adjustments on the computer with one phone to my ear, my husband stepped in to hold the other phone. Because it took a while to get everything adjusted for them, I kept kinking the IV line making the alarm go off. My daughter stepped in to clear the alarm bell so the nurses wouldn’t come in and scold me.”Despite the health challenges, “I stayed in touch with my clients during their trip home and they knew they could call or text me at any point during their travels.”Staying Ahead of the GameSamantha McClure, owner of Small World Travel, an affiliate of Brownell Travel in Austin, Texas, had clients, a mother and two children, on an around-the-world trip. They were en route to Bhutan via Bangkok when Bhutan closed its borders.Before the clients landed in Bangkok, McClure had designed a whole new Thailand itinerary. “The reason I knew of the Bhutan border closing is that I got a call from my partners in Bhutan,” McClure said. “They actually called me while the press conference was going on, and we started making plans the moment we heard that they might close the borders.”The clients rolled with the punches and had a great time in Thailand. They planned to go to Indonesia, but with the threat of more border closures, McClure and the clients made a split-second decision to go to Australia, landing just 14 hours before a 14-day quarantine was implemented.“For an update, they were supposed to go to Tasmania for a week, but now Tasmania has closed their borders, even within the country,” McClure said. “So, we are continuing to stay a few steps ahead of them in terms of designing their itinerary.”“None of this would be possible if I had not established a strong relationship with the clients prior to their departure, so that I knew what they would want to do and be capable of doing, if I had not built a strong trust with them, and if I did not have strong relationships with my partners on the ground who have really stepped up to assist at one of the most difficult times for our industry,” McClure said. “I know that everybody is reeling from cancellations and changes and under a lot of stress, but they put the needs of traveling clients ahead of that.” PHOTO: Stunning views at Phu Kradueng National Park. (photo via iStock / Getty Images Plus / Appfind) Saving a Paris TripLouisa Gehring, of Gehring Travel, a Cincinnati-based affiliate of Brownell Travel, was in Paris and coincidentally had clients in Paris as well when the European travel ban was announced at about 2 a.m. March 12 Paris time.Gehring woke up to rearrange flights for herself and her clients before the ban went into effect at midnight Friday, March 13.Gehring left on a Thursday flight, and her clients decided to fly home Friday. Cutting the trip short meant the clients might have to forgo a visit to the top of the Eiffel Tower and a dinner cruise by celebrated chef Alain Ducasse (which was non-refundable).But within hours, Gehring moved both experiences to their final day in Paris – as she was flying home. “I was working online in the air thanks to the wi-fi on the plane, and coordinating with my assistant, who was in the office back home and knew this was a priority,” Gehring said. “Together we worked to rebook the Eiffel Tower and work with Alain Ducasse’s team to rework the cruise. We were able to rebook them quickly because we spoke with the clients and made it the day’s top priority, and thankfully, the clients were also very responsive and decisive!”They were among the last visitors to the Eiffel Tower before it closed, followed by the dinner cruise, where they were basically the only guests and treated like royalty. PHOTO: The Eiffel Tower in Paris, France (Photo via Europhotos / Dreamstime) Easing the Pain of CancellationKay Fahlberg of Ippo Travel in Denver, an affiliate of Andavo Travel, tried to ease the sting of a cancellation of a trip to Japan in mid-February by offering a Japanese experience at home.“We worked on their itinerary together with all the details for creating their dream trip to Japan. One of the highlights was to experience a tea ceremony in a Japanese garden,” said Fahlberg, who was raised in Japan. “Since I was trained to perform the ceremony as my grandfather was a founder of a flower arrangement (ikebana) school and a master teacher of tea ceremony, I thought this may be an opportunity to bring Japan here. And the class would be a great way to introduce a part of the culture and talk about travel etiquettes as well.”However, then came restrictions on group gatherings, and the class was postponed. “They thought it was a good idea and I would check back with them once the restriction is lifted. It’s something to look forward to,” Fahlberg said. “They are planning on using the same itinerary next year. I think the class would give them more appreciation to the experiences in Japan.” PHOTO: Arashiyama, Kyoto, Japan in the spring season. (Photo via iStock/Getty Images Plus/SeanPavonePhoto) Planning AheadKaren Upchurch of Odyssey Travel, a Virtuoso Agency in Ormond Beach, Fla., decided to scout resorts within a few hours drive, such as Montage Palmetto Bluff in Bluffton, S.C. and The Cloister at Sea Island in Georgia to plan long weekend trips.“All those destinations are lovely for a drive vacation,” she said. “If they’re home alone and thinking they can’t go to Europe, a lovely three- or four-day weekend close to home really comes into play.”She’ll wait to see how the situation evolves, and when it simmers down, she can promote the close-to-home suggestions. “It will help people continue to dream and have something to look forward to,” she said. Let's block ads! (Why?)

ASTA Seeks Clarity on Air Refunds, Commissions

As U.S. government discussions regarding financial relief for the travel industry continue to move forward, ASTA detailed ways in which airlines should process current refunds and commissions while stressing that support should also be granted to the advisor community.“Passenger and cargo airlines alone have requested $58 billion in relief,” said ASTA President and CEO Zane Kerby. “Given the pivotal role travel advisors play in the booking process, ASTA feels strongly that any targeted relief for the travel industry should be available to travel agencies and not limited to the largest companies in the industry.” Trending Now He added, “In the case of airlines seeking the significant relief as described, we ardently believe they should be compelled at this time to clarify ticket refund and exchange procedures for all travelers.”For travelers who booked through agents, airlines should be required to provide much more specific information, Kerby said.He noted that carriers should work toward ensuring that travelers who booked through an agency are advised to contact their advisor to process refunds and exchanges rather than directly on the carriers’ website; all tickets should be fully refundable and not credited for future travel; agents should be allowed to process all refunds through the Airlines Report Corporation (ARC); original agency commissions/incentives on air bookings should be protected if tickets are exchanged or rebooked, and commission should be protected on refunded tickets.Zane also said airlines should confirm and/or clarify that penalty charges or change fees do will apply for canceled or rebooked flights at this time, and ensure that travelers can use any credit issued for unused tickets for a minimum of two years from the original departure date.For air booked on or after March 1, airlines should lengthen the window for rebooking flights to one year from the date of travel with no change fees, and ensure ancillary fees for booking in 2020 that were subsequently canceled are fully refunded to the traveler“We commend those airlines and other travel suppliers that have already relaxed their rebooking and cancellation requirements during this crisis. Doing so is of great value to the traveler as well as the travel advisor,” Zane said. “However, more relief is needed given the constraints remaining. Likewise, ASTA and its members thank those suppliers that have revised their travel agency commission and incentive payment practices to make them payable upon booking rather than at the time of travel, but we now call on all airlines to implement the same practice.”In the final analysis “recognizing the value travel advisors play in the booking process and the trust placed in advisors by the traveling public will help ensure the long-term success of the travel industry as it rebounds in a post-COVID-19 world,” Zane said. Let's block ads! (Why?)

How Suppliers Are Helping Travel Agents During COVID-19 Outbreak

Amid the ongoing chaos wrought by the coronavirus outbreak, there is one decided bright spot: suppliers are standing by their travel advisor partners with advice and support to help them move forward.“Suppliers are absolutely going above and beyond to help advisors take care of our clients during these uncertain and challenging times,” said Susie Chau of Carpe Diem Traveler. As a case in point, Chau’s DMC partner, Charmed by Spain, helped her deal with clients who were in Spain when the country declared emergency earlier this month. Trending Now “They quickly reorganized transportation to take them to Valencia where their flight was scheduled to depart from and booked their hotel with a flexible check-out date. The local guides even offered that my clients could stay with them in their homes if they could no longer stay in the hotel. They truly treated them like family and put them at ease.”She added that the hotel’s owners cooked them meals on their last day in Spain when they were quarantined to their room. “My clients were so grateful for the warm treatment they received from all of the suppliers involved,” Chau said.Suppliers are also working hand-in-hand with agents to “field the insurmountable number of cancellations and changes coming their way, so realistically, all they can do right now is make sure that we are up-to-date with their policy changes as they come in,” said Hannah Nowicki of Sunset Travel & Cruise in Chicago. “Our consortium, MAST Travel Network, and ASTA are offering webpages with updates and tools on how best to respond to concerned clients, as well as the media. ASTA is offering weekly webinars with updates from the travel industry and their advocacy work.”Also, Nowicki noted that suppliers are keeping the agency well informed. “Things are changing by the hour and it takes a lot to make sure that all agents are well-informed with the new information and policies as they come in,” she said.For his part, James Ferguson of Travel Edge gave a shout out to the cruise industry. “The cruise lines have been particularly forgiving with very liberal cancellation policy updating regularly in concert with the rapidly changing scenarios,” he said. “In particular, Crystal Cruises offered my client an upgrade (at a nominal cost) from their regular suite to the Penthouse for their July 25, 14-day Grand Europe river sailing – which the clients gladly accepted.” PHOTO: The Crystal Symphony at sea. (photo via Crystal Cruises) Ryan Doncsecz of VIP Vacations Inc. praised Delta Vacations for disseminating crucial information to agents on a real-time basis. “They are immediately updating policies to help cover travel agents by allowing new rules to help agents protect the money spent on the booking in terms of an agency service fee, offering flexible future credit options, and are the first company out to update their waiver policies...” he said. “Delta Vacations President Jennie Ho and Vice President Kristen Molloy have been open to travel agent suggestions, and are responding in such a fast manner.”He also praised AIC Hotel Group’s Hard Rock Hotels “for being the first resort brand to proactively release a very flexible rebooking program for worried travelers. Many key resort partners from around the world have followed AIC’s action plan.”Doncsecz also praised Apple Leisure Group for doing an amazing job at implementing self-help technology through VaxVacationAccess.com to help agents update their bookings, he said. “This will hopefully alleviate wait times for their various companies within their umbrella.”For Travel Experts, getting information out to its member advisors has been key from the get-go.“When the coronavirus began to impact the travel industry, we immediately created our own internal information center for the posting and updating of all supplier information and their policies regarding Covid-19,” said Sharon Fake, the luxury host agency’s director of operations. “This information center for our travel advisors is very well-organized for easy access by the advisors and has been the primary resource our advisors are using. It is updated the moment new information is presented.”Other suppliers that are arming agents with resources include Apple Leisure Group, Travel Leaders Group and Cruise Planners. PHOTO: More support for travel agents. (photo via Apple Leisure Group) “During the downtime we are experiencing during the coronavirus pandemic, a number of vendors have been reaching out via webinars, phone and email with information about promotions once the pandemic eases up,” said Claire Schoeder of Elevations Travel.She had been planning to attend the now-canceled Visit Scotland Expo on April 1 and 2 in Aberdeen Scotland.“Several vendors I was scheduled to meet have reached out to me via phone and email. Yesterday I Skyped with the Fife Arms, a luxury hotel in Braemar, Scotland,” Schoeder said. “This is a great way for me to learn about the hotel when I cannot see it in person. Vendors and agents who are pro-active during this trying time will be ready to move forward once the pandemic has settled down.” Let's block ads! (Why?)