The coronavirus crisis will undoubtedly leave closed businesses in its wake across almost all industries, not just travel. Despite all the challenges and hardship business owners have had to deal with, though, it has at least come with something of a silver lining for travel agencies: highlighting the true value of working with a travel advisor.
In March, as the virus' presence in the U.S. ramped up and borders around the world started closing, stories proliferated about do-it-yourself travelers having difficulty reaching call centers to change their plans.
Conversely, travel advisors' clients had an advocate with supplier connections to help them change plans. It was undoubtedly difficult work, and in many cases without compensation, but those stories will go a long way when leisure travel returns and consumers need help navigating the new travel landscape.
ASTA recently began highlighting a number of advisors' coronavirus stories with its Not All Heroes Wear Capes campaign. It is heavily featured on the Society's consumer-facing website, travelsense.org, and advisors are encouraged to share assets from the campaign (and their own stories).
The consumer press is picking up on that story, as well. For instance, Christopher Elliott wrote a piece for Forbes with the headline, "This Is Why You Need a Travel Advisor for Your Post-Pandemic Vacation."
"If you're planning a trip after the pandemic, maybe it's time to call a professional," Elliott wrote. "A competent travel agent can help you navigate the strange new world of airlines, hotels and rental cars. Travel is radically and almost unrecognizably different after the Covid-19 pandemic. That is why you need a travel advisor, say experts."
Here's another story highlighting advisors' value.
Last week, the host agency Travel Edge worked with Delta Air Lines and the local government in Bermuda to open L.F. Wade Airport and get 100 U.S. citizens home.
Commercial flights in and out of the airport have been suspended for some time now. But Travel Edge said it was able to charter two flights (one on April 7 from Fort Lauderdale and the other on May 15 from Atlanta) to get U.S. residents home.
Mike Dawson, the country director of Travel Edge Bermuda, said the charters were done with the support of the government. Travel Edge is in the process of organizing a third charter to bring home Canadians in Bermuda and Bermudian students studying in Canada.
"This pandemic has demonstrated the value of travel advisors," Michael Johnson, executive vice president of Travel Edge Leisure, said in a statement. "From finding solutions to impossible problems to being there to help clients begin dreaming again, advisors provide unparallel peace of mind for these uncertain times. The time has come to recognize and celebrate this this incredible profession. I know a lot of families in both the U.S. and Bermuda are celebrating today."