Travel advisors have been finding creative ways to stay in touch with their clients despite the shutdown of the travel industry due to the COVID-19 crisis. One of these travel advisors has found a way to take the negative and turn it into a positive, by creating her own Quarantour. Linda de Sosa, Bucketlist Travel Consulting, an independent travel consultant affiliated with Travel Experts, created her own Quarantour, taking the quarantine situation online to keep her clients both entertained and interested in future vacations.
Travel advisor Linda de Sosa, based in Houston and a Virtuoso Wanderlist Specialist, created a unique weekly e-mail for her clients during the COVID-19 quarantine called Quarantour in which she took them to different destinations over seven weeks. The tour included virtual views of the destination, recipes, book lists, music and more. The destinations included, in order, U.S. National Parks, Spain, Kenya, Thailand, Australia, Antarctica and Peru.
“I got a great reaction,” de Sosa says, adding, “It was not designed to get bookings, but just to let them know I was thinking of them. Each week different clients viewing the Quarantour sent their appreciation. We then asked them to where are you dreaming about traveling? More than 40 got back to me within a day after I sent out that e-mail telling me about their dream trips.”
She included language lessons, books, and movies to make the destinations come alive and then some recipes to cook up and music to get them in the mood as they took the virtual Quarantour.
She told her clients, “My passion is travel. That is what lights up my eyes. I use it to help color in my future. Experiential travel lets me feel. Themed travel lets me learn. Let me help you color in your future dreams and fill your senses with the world around you.”
She had been traveling all her life and sought to share those experiences with family and friends. “When I became critically ill at age 36, I decided that the most important thing in my life, besides my family, was my passion for travel,” she says. “I gave up climbing the corporate ladder and decided to spend full time creating travel experiences for myself and others.”
More than 25 years later, de Sosa has traveled to 150 countries, all 50 states and seven continents, and has taken 38 cruises on rivers and oceans. “More importantly, my valued clients have benefited from my insider’s knowledge and experience as they choose to explore our world,” she says.
When she started the Quarantour, it was as much for her as for her clients. She told them, “This is the longest I have gone without traveling in the last 25 years. And I don’t like it. So, I am leaving now and I invite you to join me. We will literally travel around the world with one stop per continent. As I always do, I will prepare you for the journey with resources and provide insights from my lifetime of travel to 150 countries and all states and continents.”
When travel became suspended last spring, de Sosa got busy. During the lockdown, in addition to the Quarantour, she created a new website and publicized it via social media. “My goal is to get people booking through the website and then working with more upscale clients to customize trips,” she said.
She also updated her client list. She sent a request for 2021/22 travel dreams to all clients and received 44 responses. Their top two destinations were Australia and Iceland. She then sent an e-mail to all respondents with a link to the free Virtuoso Wanderlist trip program to help them develop their future trips. After creating travel bags with her new logo, she is hand delivering them around town with brochures on their dream destinations.
She notes that “not too many people are ready to travel right now, but we do have a few going to places like South Dakota and Utah. Most of my clients haven’t been affected economically by the coronavirus crisis. I have one pharmacist who wanted to go somewhere because she was working so hard and needed a break, but one trip after another that we planned for her got cancelled. Some other clients are desperate to travel, but they too have had multiple cancellations of planned trips. Other clients are not wanting to go anywhere internationally because they are afraid to get stuck somewhere like what happened to some travelers in the beginning of the coronavirus crisis.
“I like to do things differently. This way, my clients remember me and refer me to other potential clients.”
She joined Travel Experts as an independent affiliate three years ago. Shortly after she became a Travel Experts affiliate, she had a stroke while visiting England. “I had a 12-hour wait in St. Mary’s Hospital in London before they agreed with me that I had a stroke and had to transfer me to another hospital that handled stroke cases. While there, I was still booking travel in bed while I relearned how to talk, type, and walk.”
She also has some thoughts on how to deal with life after coronavirus. “This current crisis reminds me that I believe things happen so that one can share ideas to help get others through their own crisis. And we certainly have had a year of crisis. So here are some observations:
- “When everything turns upside down, take the time to evaluate what you want to be when you grow up, where your passions, experience and skills lie, and use the disruption to make it easier to make a change.
- “Take care of yourself during disruption. It doesn’t take much to mess with your brain and result in depression. Ask for help.
- “Visualize yourself at the other side of the crisis.”
You can check out De Sosa’s website at bucketlisttravelconsulting.com, maybe it’ll inspire you, too.