ASTA on Thursday said it was working with the Trump administration and Congress “to obtain a variety of relief options to help advisors, and the travel industry as a whole, weather this storm.”
Meanwhile, Society president and CEO Zane Kerby advised agents to work with suppliers, many of whom have issued “generous” cancellation and rebooking policies. A list of those suppliers is forthcoming from ASTA on Monday.
“This can help consumers understand that if they’re nervous about booking now that they can book without cancellation or rebooking penalties,” he said. “They can still pick up the phone and book a trip.”
Kerby said ASTA was still operating under World Health Organization (WHO) guidance that travel should not be curtailed, despite the spread of the Covid-19 coronavirus.
“We follow expert guidelines, and the WHO is still saying not to curtail travel,” Kerby said. “As long as those with scientific expertise are saying it’s OK to travel, that’s our position, too.”
Leisure Travel Alliance members have reported to the consortium that, right now, they have “little or no booking activity worth mentioning,” vice president Bobby Godwin said.
But the LTA is hopeful that reduced rates and increased amenities currently being offered will spark some booking activity, Godwin said. As such, the consortium continues to manage its consumer marketing efforts as before.
Ensemble Travel Group said it continues to provide members with tools and resources to share with their clients. It also “continues to take a ‘facts over fear’ approach,” the consortium said in a statement.
Similarly, Travel Leaders Group said it has been sharing guidance, training, resources and more to its various brands.
“Our message to the traveling public is that there is no reason to arbitrarily cancel your spring or summer vacation or to delay planning a vacation. Get the facts first,” John Lovell, president of leisure travel, supplier relations and networks for Travel Leaders Group, said in a statement. “At times like these, the value of booking with a travel advisor becomes increasingly apparent. We are here to support those advisors by providing information [as] well as tips on protecting bookings.”
TLG encouraged advisors to stay in touch with clients who are cancelling or rebooking. Those actions woul demonstrate to clients that their advisor is ready to support them with new travel plans when they’re ready to go.
An ASTA survey indicated it takes at least an hour per trip to rebook a client.
In a statement, Michael Heflin, senior vice president of Travel Leaders Group’s hotel division, encouraged advisors to educate clients on options.
“Explore outside the norms to make adapting to the changing environment easier, specifically consider ‘stay-cation’ or drive market options,” he said. “One of the recommendations we have been giving is evaluating villa and property options.”
Arnie Weissmann contributed to this report.
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