Destinations are slowly reopening after the COVID-19 pandemic brought the world to a shutdown. Hotels, airlines and tour operators are starting to resume operations with new protocols in place, many of which include social distancing guidelines, more extensive disinfection processes, hand sanitizers throughout, decreased capacity, and new dining guidelines. But, is this enough to reassure travelers of their safety while traveling?

We turned to our Facebook page to ask advisors what they’re hearing from their clients. Are they willing to travel with the new guidelines in place? How do they feel about flying and visiting a destination while wearing a face mask? We’ve all heard there’s a pent-up demand for travel after months of staying at home, but are travelers ready to take on the New Normal?

Dena Troisi, travel agency manager at Affordable Destinations, says, “Honestly, it’s kind of scaring them away, but all of them are getting the urge to travel. I think that most will go in the fall.”

However, Danna Kimpel, travel consultant with Always Travel with Danna, says, “I am making bookings; clients are apprehensive about having to wear masks and testing, while other clients are worried people won’t wear a mask or get tested. Both types are booking, but taking out insurance just in case.”

And travel advisor Janine McNab, says that “As a traveler I am waiting for protocols to end. I cannot imagine a holiday with a mask on, especially tropical destinations. The social distancing impacts meeting new people, which is part of the vacation fun. I have no issue with good hand hygiene.”

 “They are sitting back to see how it goes for others. Protocols are only useful if they are indeed implemented as promised.” — Lauren Goldenberg, travel advisor

Noel Reitz, travel agent with Uniglobe Love to Travel, says that most of her clients are waiting, and many have cancelled their bookings to Hawaii, “due to them extending their quarantine numerous times!”

For travel advisor Litsa Monsell, most of her clients are waiting it out for this fall as well.

And travel advisor Lauren Goldenberg said the new protocols aren’t really encouraging her clients to travel. She says, “They are sitting back to see how it goes for others. Protocols are only useful if they are indeed implemented as promised.”

Wondering about those thinking of heading out to theme parks? Well, Christy Neal, owner with Magical Travel, says her clients are not ready to head to the theme parks, pointing out that she “had all clients move to 2021. I just don’t see it.” However, she adds, “Camping, RVing, and family car outdoor vacations are on the rise.”

Travel Advisors Lead the Way

“I think us agents will need to head to a few places and do videos and provide feedback to our clients and Facebook fans,” says travel advisor with Anthem Travel, “so they can feel better about things.”

A family enjoying a cycling trip while adhering to new protocols.

Travel advisor Ana Dawson agrees, adding that, “I think as part of the agent community, we are going to have to lead the horses to water. We need to get out there…show and tell our clients the best practices of safe travel.” She adds that she’s getting ready for a road trip to some close-by state and national parks to get her feet wet. “We live in Chicago but heading to Door County, WI for the weekend. And next weekend, Sleeping Bear Dunes, MI and Mackinaw Island, MI. We’re staying close and taking a cooler of food just in case. The plan is to fly out to do the Oregon coastal area in July.”

Reitz adds that she’s “traveling to Jamaica in September, so hoping that phase is less restrictive than phase one.”

Just as Reitz is heading out on her first trip post-quarantine this fall, Deb Roberts is one step ahead saying she traveled last week and felt quite safe and comfortable.

“I think as a part of the agent community, we are going to have to lead the horses to water. We need to get out there…show and tell our clients the best practices of safe travel.”  — Ana Dawson, travel advisor

Robyn Jolson Engels is planning her first trip post-quarantine, saying that Karisma Resorts is offering a FAM for advisors to take a look at what they’ve implemented. “I’m going back there July 6 to check it out for my clients,” she adds.

While Suzanne Smith, owner of Champagne Vacations, messaged us while on a mini-vacation herself staying just a couple hours away from her home at a Bed and Breakfast in Asheville, NC. “It is proving to be more difficult than I thought since some places are open and some aren’t,” she says. “Some restaurants are only opening on the weekend, which doesn’t work for us traveling Monday through Wednesday. There are restrictions that we have to follow here at the inn as well. It’s much more stressful than I thought it would be.”

Traveler exploring while social distancing and wearing a face mask.

Face Masks

Trish Urbaniak DeDamos, owner at Just 4 U Travel, says, “My clients are not willing to risk quarantine and wearing masks for hours on end. They are calling and asking…but mention the masks and all the rules and ‘if this,’ [and they’re] moving current summer trips or putting off booking altogether. So far, none are afraid of virus (aware but not overly concerned).”

Travel advisor Beth M. Sparling agrees, saying that, “The main concerns that have been expressed by my clients are the ‘in destination experience’ and the requirement of COVID testing upon arrival, and having to self quarantine until the test results are available. They understand the mask requirement while in the airports and on the plane, but they are not excited about going on vacation and having to wear a mask while on property or when out experiencing the destination. The trend has been to reschedule existing trips for 2021. Most of the new trip requests received are also for travel in 2021.”

“I am finding that my clients are hesitant with the idea of having to wear a mask, especially for those hot destinations and those who are traveling with kids,” says Anna Nelson Swenson, travel advisor with Journeys Inc. “I have had clients tell me that if they have to wear a mask, they will postpone till next year. They are also concerned with pools not being open if they go to a resort.”

“Most of my clients understand the recommendations and actually appreciate the fact that it means respect and greater safety for all.” — Barbara Oliver, owner of Romantic Journeys

DeDamos adds that, “Wearing a mask the entire time is not what my clients want to do. Most are waiting things out. How would you even sanitize a cloth mask multiple times in a week? Every time you adjust or put on or off you put your hands by your face. Requirements are going to hurt tourism. What about those who can’t wear masks due to asthma or COPD?”

Travel advisor Megan Austin also says that her clients “So far, would rather wait it out” than travel while wearing a face mask.

While others such as Barbara Oliver, owner of Romantic Journeys, says, “Most of my clients understand the recommendations and actually appreciate the fact that it means respect and greater safety for all. For my Europe clients they will just be happy to be able to visit, even with some adjustments. Beach resort clients will probably wait awhile as masks leave odd tan lines.”

Travel Protocols Post-COVID-19
Travel writer Sue Campbell, with the only face mask she wants to wear. (Photo courtesy of Sue Campbell.)

And travel writer Sue Campbell said the only face mask she would want to wear at the beach is this one [see photo],” but she adds, “I get it, our world has changed.”

Don’t miss what ASTA board members have to say about “Travel Post-COVID-19?” and  “U.S. Airlines Increase Face Mask Enforcement.”