Travel safety has always been a priority — then the pandemic made it the first priority. What can tour operators, travel designers and travel companies do to boost client safety? Here are 10 suggestions from Global Rescue experts and Safe Travel partners.
ONE: Provide a Travel Bubble for Clients
Travel companies already create a one-of-a-kind trips designed to a client’s needs, interests and dreams. Use your industry knowledge to provide a “travel bubble” by recommending low-risk coronavirus options, including destination, travel corridor, transportation providers, hotel, restaurants and/or activities.
“Start by asking the client what their main concerns are – for some it may be flying, for others it may be getting a COVID-19 test abroad, others it might be a bunch of ‘what if…’ scenarios,” said Mimi Lichtenstein, founder of Truvay Travel. “Once you know what their concerns are, share objective sources of information, such as links to key resources.”
TWO: Reformat Trips to Meet Safety Concerns
Offer small group options or private tours with a personal guide and/or driver. Exclusivity lends itself well to social distancing protocols.
“One of the first things out of the gate will be private trips,” said Jim Sano, former president of Geographic Expeditions and Yosemite National Park Ranger. “These private trips will be family bubbles or small groups of people with high confidence that this is the group they feel sure of.”
THREE: Vet All Vendors
Vet transportation providers, lodging and rentals, guides, restaurants and sight-seeing venues for security standards and coronavirus protocols. Work with businesses that have adapted operations, modified employee practices and redesigned public spaces to lessen the risk.
FOUR: Share Coronavirus Testing Requirements
Many travel companies already help with passport and visa logistics. In this evolving world of travel, clients may also ask for additional services, such as trip timelines for coronavirus testing and documentation requirements for destinations.
“Tell clients what to expect in the destination — COVID-19 protocols, how to get COVID testing done before return to United States, availability of outside dining, percent occupancy at hotels/restaurants, etc.,” said Lichtenstein. “If you have recent reports from your travels or colleagues’ on travel in general or specific to that destination, share those details.”
“Having the correct travel documentation right now is critical: passport, vaccinations, health insurance, even travel insurance. There is no question that we are entering a new normal,” said Daniel Richards, Global Rescue CEO.
FIVE: Provide Coronavirus Services
Some travel companies include coronavirus precautions in the travel package, such as sending a medical professional to meet clients at the airport with test capabilities, arranging for testing throughout the world or providing a place to quarantine, if needed.
“A Global Rescue travel protection membership can help manage this process with advisory services to find the nearest and most appropriate health care facility, assist with case management or advisory services or handle the logistics of getting a member home safely,” said Jeff Weinstein, medical operations supervisor at Global Rescue.
SIX: Research Destinations for Clients
Travel designers know and share every trip detail: the security process at the airport, the best restaurant in the area and if the hotel pool is open to guests. Add safety and health information to your organization’s knowledge database with Global Rescue’s destination reports for 215 countries and principalities worldwide. This up-to-date medical, security and intelligence research is valuable travel safety information for all stages of travel.
SEVEN: Offer Travel Insurance
It’s not possible to guarantee an issue-free vacation, but it is feasible to prepare clients by offering travel insurance. Travel insurance offers protection against trip cancellations, interruptions and delays as well as baggage loss and delays.
“I tell clients to look at the gaps between what is covered and what the cancellation policy for the trip is. It is those gaps we either need to fill, or at least have the knowledge about, up front, so there aren’t any surprises,” said Kimberly Franke of Kanna Travel Services.
EIGHT: Provide Travel Protection Services
A step beyond travel insurance, travel protection services are like having a personal assistant available for a client’s health and safety needs. A Global Rescue membership is there for the small asks — such as expediting the replacement of a lost passport to finding the nearest health care facility — as well as the big asks: field rescue, medical evacuation and hospital-to-hospital transport.
NINE: Assistance during Emergencies
Does your company have the resources to provide help during an emergency, such as a natural disaster or civil unrest in a client’s vacation destination? With Global Rescue as part of your response team, you’ll be able to add one more layer of assurance to any trip.
TEN: Remind Clients to Stay Safe
Gently reinforce the need to maintain healthy travel practices post arrival. This will not only keep them safe but also respect the health and well-being of local citizens and those in the travel industry.
“The clearest lesson learned from 2020 is that responding effectively to COVID-19 is a shared responsibility requiring a multi-layered approach. We must all work together,” said the U.S. Travel Association in its March 2021 report, Travel for the New Normal. “Travelers must do their part by adopting safe travel practices and following science-based guidelines to help protect themselves, the health of their family and all those around them.”
Click here to learn more about Global Rescue’s Safe Travel partner program.
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