When its time to blog again, I like to put my hand in my tool box mind, rattle round a little, pick a few ideas up to inspect and consider and see where I end up.. and this week I’ve been intrigued with how booking processes have changed due to Covid. A good agent while making your booking now.. is actually at the same time setting it up to be cancelled as smoothly as it’s made. To me, it’s a mental insurance policy!
Last year we (travel agents) did our apprenticeship in the dismantle.. and for the most part it’s the same process now as it was then.. however every action now is methodical, measured and still always with the best client outcome in mind if it had to be undone. And calm.. I go about it like surgery!
Where an agent may have swan dived into airline schedules and transit points before.. it’s now more of a flamingo toe dip! I’m thinking about which schedule offers the least amount of risk at that point in time.. or if that border shuts how can we reroute this to still make it work. I also have an acute knowledge of what Premiers have done with borders at what time and at what numbers. I’m still handling many family holidays and am sure a client or two have thought maybe I was overthinking things when quoting how many school holidays periods a particular border had been open or shut. And sometimes we may not need to unpick all your plans but to completely restitch.. so having a plan b while you’re making the plan a is also ideal during these times!
One key lesson for me has been to book direct at each and every opportunity I can! Why.. when we see so many wholesalers going ape in the paper and online with amazing package deals? Because if we have to unpick it- we’ve added another layer to the process that is cancelling arrangements and applying for refunds. And why else.. because my industry contacts, memberships and affiliations will ALWAYS reign supreme! The unpicking process can sometimes require assistance from those golden contacts in travel, whose number won’t be found with the flashy ad you saw!
We’re reaching a time when some travel providers are starting to reel in some t&c’s when it comes to refunds, credits and rebooking fees (Air BnB most recently). Again these have to be considered at the time the booking was made.. not a surprise when you’ve had to unfortunately cancel. This is why using a travel agent is key.. think of it as being able to send a Don Bradman out to bat for you when you're behind on the board!
The period of time suppliers take to confirm refunds or credits is still ordinary for the most part.. but even still- this is a critical point in time your travel agents manages for you. Staying across this takes time, patience and the ability to know when to change angle or take a deep breath and ask again nicely. Having the knowledge of who has been naughty or nice when it comes to cancellations and refunds is also an important consideration while making plans in the future.
And after it’s all said and done, we’ve either been lucky enough to travel, or we have a refund or a credit to try again. I’ve been happy with my track record during all this- the only non recoverable arrangement has been a couple of economy class tickets from Vegas to San Fran.. so annoying but all my clients will be sure to know who to avoid when we’re able to explore the States again!
So the strange times in travel continue, so too does it seem the booking process! Never has it been more important to be as across the construction but also the deconstruction of a holiday. If you’re unsure of the how or the why, don’t have the time to invest or the industry heavyweights in your contact list when you need.. it’s time you called me!