Consortia and host agencies are continuing to help travel advisors navigate through the complicated and often perplexing issues related to the pandemic, said agents who are taking advantage of their services.
“As an independent travel advisor, being part of a host agency means I don’t have to go it alone, and that has become especially important during the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Cal Cheney of Bucket List Tours. “I have had the benefit of resources from both Nexion and Travel Leaders during the pandemic, and our updates on Nexion’s member portal, myNexion, is a ‘one-stop shop’ for when I want information.”
The webpage, he noted, contains pandemic information from trusted health sources and regularly updated information from suppliers about cancellation policies relating to COVID-19.
“I’ve also had access to webinars with expert information on new legislation and programs like the CARES Act, and the resulting financial aid programs available to small businesses. Some other webinars have provided support mentally, knowing that we are all in this together, and I am not the only one out there struggling with my attitude,” he said.
Similarly, Signature Travel Network has taken advantage of Signature Travel Network’s webinars, which deal with the crisis in general and others with specific industry segments such as cruising, said Claire Schoeder of Elevations Travel.
“We also have seen webinars that feature domestic destinations so that we know what is available for our luxury clients right now. I have found the information available to be very proactive rather than simply reactive. Signature has the best training program I have experienced as a travel professional – and have been very effective during COVID.”
Signature also updates COVID information on individual supplier pages “The information is refreshed regularly as cruise lines, hotels and land partners provide updated information. The details have been priceless, as I can give clients the most up-to-date information directly from a supplier.” Schoeder. “I have found the information available to be very proactive rather than simply reactive.”
She added, “Signature has been helpful with locating and referring us to vendors that can help us, especially with domestic travel. There are a number of tourism boards listed on SigNet, and those boards have provided invaluable information about tour companies and hotels that can help provide clients with the unique accommodations and experiences they are looking for right now.”
The cooperative also features a bulletin board for its advisors to post or answer COVID related questions and well as share information about current travel experiences, Schoeder said.
Holly Lombardo of Classic Travel Advisors praised her host agency, Travel Experts, for its real-time responses to COVID-19 developments. “Immediately following the first wave of COVID-related cancellations back in March, Travel Experts began to compile air, cruise and hotel notifications chronologically on a permanent platform for us to refer to,” she said.
“This was extremely helpful to agents because the information was coming in so fast and furious it was like drinking from a firehose – and we were all concerned that we would be informing and advising our clients with outdated information.”
Travel Experts also frequently arranges webinars with a variety of insurance companies, which Lombardo said she finds “extremely useful since information continues to change and again we must be confident that we are correct in our advice and recommendations to our clients.”
For his part, Ryan Doncsecz of VIP Vacations said he “is in awe of our consortium, TRAVELSAVERS and am so appreciative of their support.”
He noted that TRAVELSAVERS has been serving as a bridge between the agency and some resorts, cruise-line and tour operator partners. “Some previously non-refundable vacations were able to be assisted –whether with refunds or the ability to turn the trip into a future credit when were unable to do so directly with the specific companies previously,” Doncsecz said.
“In this day when response time can sometimes be lacking, we never are waiting longer than an hour or two for a response and an attempt to step in,” he added. “We are extremely lucky have to all of those involved at TRAVELSAVERS.”
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