Travel Advisors Add Coronavirus Therapist to Resumes 

Your vacation time is precious, so when you’re ready for a getaway you want advice from someone who knows the deals, the best places to stay and those off-the-beaten-path experiences that will make your trip memorable. A travel advisor can provide that expertise, crafting a trip that meets your budget and vacation goals. But when a catastrophe like the coronavirus hits, a travel advisor is so much more.  

While the coronavirus outbreak is an unprecedented event, travel advisors are trained in the art of crisis management and they handle stressful scenarios every day. Advisors deal with weather disruptions, health situations or travel warnings that may impact clients travel plans. As such, they also work on alternative travel plans and can likely have those in place the moment the need arises. They even answer odd questions like “how do I get my wild game home after a hunt,” or “if I am nursing, can I transport breast milk across the border?” Whether traveling domestically or internationally, their number one priority is always your safety and well-being.
  
Over recent weeks, as the coronavirus caused cancelled flights, extensive travel advisories, and closed borders, travel agents canceled, rebooked, counseled and rescued their clients. They spent hours sifting through the ever-changing narratives and policies set in place by airlines, hotels, and tour and cruise companies. They provided updates and options so that clients could make educated decisions about their travel plans. They calmed fears and made emergency flight changes to get travelers home before travel bans went into effect.
And now that emergency situations have been pacified, agents are applying for airline credits and monitoring tickets in hopes of securing refunds for their clients. They are assisting with insurance claims for trips that were cancelled or cut short and helping travelers move vacations to later travel dates.  
So besides having an innate desire to serve their clients, what’s so great about a travel advisor during a crisis?  Let’s lay this out with an all-too-common scenario occurring over the past couple of weeks. Call hold times to online travel agencies (OTAs), airlines, and cruise lines were maxing out at 3-4 hours, only to be disconnected after hours of terrible hold music. Customers who were supposed to be traveling within the week were unable to get a hold of anyone to cancel their vacation for a refund or travel voucher. After finally getting through, the stranger on the phone informed the caller that lack of insurance meant no refunds but instead a voucher with some very complicated expiration rules. 
This may seem extreme, but it happened every day to travelers all over the world. The coronavirus  brought mass hysteria and mass confusion. When travelers booked online, the two things they hold most dear – their families and their money – were left in the care of someone with whom they had no history and no personal connection. 
On the other hand, travel advisors brought peace of mind. They were there to handle every situation caused by the coronavirus. Within three rings clients were greeted by a friendly voice.  The agent presented options and laid them out in black and white. By the end of the day their trip had been refunded, changed or cancelled.  Easy. 
In a do-it-yourself world that frequently leans more towards independence and automation, it took an event like this outbreak to make people realize that customer service is still alive and well. 
Travel Advisors were ready to provide personal service while tackling these major travel issues. The coronavirus has proved that Travel Advisors are worth their weight in gold.
Amy Eben
The Travel Advantage

 
©  Travel Leaders Group