“Travel advisors have a key role in explaining safety protocols to travelers”
This is an article that was published in the July 13th, 2020 edition of Travel Age West and written by Kenneth Shapiro.
“How many of you have had this experience? You are going through the security checkpoint at the airport, and the person in front of you seems totally surprised that they have to take off their shoes. After a discussion with the TSA agent, they are then amazed that they can’t bring their giant bottle of [insert strange-looking liquid here]. that leads to more discussion. Next comes the metal detector beep and the realization that their huge, solid-metal commemorative key chain needs to come out of their pocket.
And the whole time you’re thinking, ‘Has this person been living under a rock for the past 20 years?’
The truth is, many people don’t pay attention to travel protocols. Safety routines may be second nature to those of us in the industry, but to the average traveler, these rules and regulations are simply a dizzying, complicated mess.
And the bad news? There are a lot more procedures on the way.
As travel companies take the necessary steps to keep their guests safe, we can expect to see a patchwork of protocols rolling out across the industry. Travel advisors are going to have to learn these new procedures- from temperature monitoring to contactless security screening- and then explain them to their potentially clueless clients.
Last week, Royal Caribbean and Norwegian Cruise Line announced they are collaborating to create extensive safety plans for the cruise industry and beyond. These competitors realize that we all need to join together- and not just talk about working together, but actually do it- if we hope to get the travel industry back on its feet. And, clearly, advisors are going to play a key role, including making travelers aware of how the changes will keep them safe.
Surveys have shown that complaints about online travel agencies are at an all-time high. This dissatisfaction is at least partly the result of travelers feeling abandoned and not having someone on their side. Advisors are going to have to fill this role more than ever as we all head into uncharted territory.”
Yesterday, something surprising happened that has given me so much to consider. I’ve been a travel advisor for almost 35 years. Have I become complacent in this ever changing world? Have I just assumed too much? When did I stop being an advisor or have I?
My son-in law, John, and my grandson Ben, traveled to Florida for Ben’s baseball tournament. I arranged their air and car rental, as they already had lodging with the baseball team. I called the day before and confirmed their travels; it’s my family so of course I wanted their trip to be perfect. We took them to the airport, dropped them off and we were on our way home.
I was shocked when they called immediately from the airport. How do I check in? What do I do with the luggage? How do I get through TSA then to the gate? How do I pick up the car? Should I buy car insurance (never- it’s domestic so you are covered with your home insurance), and should I get the toll pass? Oh my!
John and Ben have traveled many times with the family, and with me. We have gone to Disneyworld many times, Jamaica and Mexico on several trips, but we always took care of all the arrangements. John just followed along. He was always there to take care of the kids, my daughter, the luggage and getting us to the destination when we drove, but he never needed to lead the way.
The moral of this story, I need to readjust my assumptions. I can’t assume with this changing world of travel rules, required travel documents, TSA rules, and now safety rules due to Covid 19, that our travelers are all knowing. I’ve always required copies of passports, passed out travel documents, went over them with our passengers, but now we need to really step it up to make sure our travelers are well aware of all the new and changing rules.
Travel advisors are always there to help our clients have the best experience, and we must start from the beginning and finish at the end. We can’t assume they know all the check-in, TSA policies at the airport, in destination and at the resort. We must continue to educate and support our clients to ensure that they have the best possible trip.