Travel agents have seen every type of travel situation, but the coronavirus pandemic brought new, unique changes to the world of travel. Recent travel has been impacted by travel bans, closures and cancellations. Travelers are torn between wanting to be safe and wanting to cross the globe for a new experience or adventure.
“The majority of travelers are cautious and would rather wait until it is safe to travel,” said Kimberly Franke, a travel specialist with Kanna Travel Services, a full-service travel agency in Bozeman, Montana, that specializes in trip logistics for adventure and sports travel. “Safe has a different meaning for each person. Some people want to wait until there is a vaccine available. Others will travel as soon as the country they are going to opens up.”
What else are travel agents seeing today and what do they recommend to clients? Franke shares her expertise with Global Rescue.
Is it too early to travel?
Travel can happen with a new level of understanding. Travelers need to educate themselves on the different aspects of their travel itinerary and think about things they probably haven’t had to before.
How can travelers make a decision about travel?
It is important for travelers to be informed about travel changes that will likely occur up until they travel — and while they are on their trip. Airlines are working hard to provide consistent routing and flight times, however, until things open fully, they are working on a different schedule than before COVID-19. Clients should understand the travel restrictions for their destination country or region. We also advise they stay abreast of the daily updates from the Centers of Disease Control.
With situations changing rapidly, travel agents are supporting clients by helping them find useful tools, like travel services memberships from Global Rescue. We recommend clients explore resources like Global Rescue. Having a resource that provides medical, security, intelligence and crisis response services to monitor and respond to potential threats can provide ease of mind to travelers going abroad and their family members at home.
Are travel agents pre-screening a client’s health in any way?
No, but if clients have questions about whether they should travel or take a certain trip, we suggest they speak to their local doctor who will be able to assess any health risks and offer their advice.
What other changes have you seen in the travel industry?
For travelers looking to travel within the next six months, we are cautioning that travel will look different than in the past. Conveniences we once enjoyed may be gone due to rules and restrictions now in place to protect travelers or locals from the virus. Local economies all over the globe have changed and conveniences that were once available are perhaps either shut down or limited. At the same time, it can be a special time to get curious, experience authentic travel and infuse support into these destinations.
Do you think these changes are for the better?
They are just changes. Each person will interpret these differently based on how inconvenienced they feel.
How can a travel agent help?
Complicated trips or too many options can overwhelm a traveler. The primary responsibility of a travel agent is to make the process of travel planning easier for their clients and ensure they experience the best trip possible.
Rather than merely booking transactions or acting as order takers, agents now function as travel advisers. They work collaboratively with clients to sort through vast amounts of information and make informed decisions, much like financial advisers assist clients in managing their money. Travel advisors can offer options travelers might not have considered and they can be a great safety net, working on your side, when things go wrong.
What do you recommend to clients?
While you might want to travel to a new country, there are now different questions and scenarios one has to ask themselves, like “if I hurt myself while on the trip, am I comfortable with the hospitals in the area?” or “Will food services be open if I need to buy snacks?” These are all relatively “normal” parts of a trip that, in the past, were easy to navigate. Now they can be quite cumbersome or unavailable.
Keep an open mind, remain flexible and expect changes to occur along the way. There are lots of people navigating these unknown waters and doing their best based on information changing daily. Remember that while we are all in the same storm, each person is riding a different kind of boat. Each town across the globe has its own struggles and has had to make changes. As travelers go out in to the world, it is important to keep this in mind.
Kanna Travel Services is a Global Rescue Safe Travel Partner. Learn more by clicking here.
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