As travel begins to slowly resume after coming to a halt due to the COVID-19 pandemic, advisors are doing their part to restore confidence in travel for their clients by getting back on the road themselves.
“I actually traveled to Cancun for this very reason from July 6-9,” Rachelle Settle of Wanderlove Travel told Travel Market Report. She documented each day, describing her experience, on Facebook Live, allowing clients to follow along and see the new policies in real time.
“We feel like our clients need to see us traveling,” said Rachel Digirolamo of Rachel’s Travel, who is in the midst of planning a trip to Mexico along with a few other agents. “I had clients there a few weeks ago and they said the staff was incredible.”
While she’s still figure out the logistics, Digirolamo would like to stay at “one of my personal favorites,” Unico Hotel Riviera Maya in Mexico. “I would love to do site inspections, but not sure how that will work. I know most resorts are asking you to stay on property,” she added.
“I think it is a good step for advisors to start traveling and set the way for clients to travel,” said Marianne Southall of Women’s Travel Club. Southall said she and her husband have plans to visit Casa de Campo in the Dominican Republic at the end of September, and hope to put together a golf group for next year. She added it’s “a great time to take advantage of very good agent rates and promotions.”
Experiencing the ‘new normal’ first-hand
In addition to restoring clients’ confidence in traveling again, taking a vacation now provides travel advisors with first-hand experience of what the “new normal” looks like.
Christina Hawkins, with AAA Carolinas, along with a fellow travel advisor, spent four nights at the Andaz Mayakoba Resort Riviera Maya and four nights at Unico Hotel Riviera Maya.
Hawkins said, overall, “it really felt like a true sense of normalcy,” adding it “just felt like a great vacation at a beautiful resort.”
At the beginning of her trip at the Greenville Airport, Hawkins said the airport did a great job in making her feel comfortable.
She had to wear a mask at the airport and while on the plane, and said everyone was very respectful of the policy, and there were no incidents like those that have been making headlines as of late.
“When we got to the airport in Cancun, it was really easy – the airport was the same as normal with the exception of wearing a mask and the presence of hand sanitizer stations,” she said.
A mask was also required in the transportation from the airport to the resort, but once at the resort, guests were able to take them off. Employees wore masks.
Once she got to the room, Hawkins said all the amenities were individually wrapped, from toiletries to the hair dryer and the remote, so they knew they were clean. In the Andaz guestroom, “there was a mask wrapped and hand sanitizer to throw in our beach bag.”
“They had really taken care of cleaning the rooms,” she said. “Once someone checked out, they did 48 hours before they would put someone new in the room to make sure it was properly and thoroughly cleaned.”
Both restaurants required reservations so they could see where to sit people at a proper distance, Hawkins said, and they weren’t too crowded either.
“The service was over the top incredible, they went above and beyond and were grateful we were there,” Hawkins told TMR.
Hawkins didn’t feel like she was on a limited vacation either. “There were a lot of little touches that made us feel very safe and comfortable,” like bikes that had been cleaned and were available to take for a ride.
“I talked to clients thinking about trips, and I shared my experience and they feel more comfortable and confident,” Hawkins said. “They were all so happy to hear about the procedures and it made them that much more comfortable.”
Next up, Hawkins is planning a trip to the British Virgin Islands, sailing a chartered catamaran in November. “It’s our own private boat so we'll feel very comfortable.” Following that will be Quebec City in January.