Travel advisors are showing strong confidence in the midst of the coronavirus scare that has dramatically impacted travelers’ plans and the travel industry. Advisors are heading around the globe and showing clients that although the virus should be taken seriously, it shouldn’t be the time to panic.
We posed a simple question on Facebook: “Are you, as a travel advisor, traveling domestically or internationally in the next few weeks.” The responses poured in and it shows that upcoming travel for advisors spans the globe.
Bonnie Balk points out that, “the owner of [her] agency is traveling to the Cayman Islands next week; her daughter just returned from Thailand two weeks ago and her cousin just returned from Vietnam in the last two weeks.” And Ana Dawson, who says most of her corporate clients are only doing Web meetings, is traveling to Mexico, France, Atlanta, Nashville and Marco Island before end of April…“none of which I cancelled.”
Claire Maguire, a Cruise Planners agent with Island Girl Travel and Vacations, says she’s not letting anything stop her. “Going with 14 clients to Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand on April 8 ????.” Tamyra Nash just returned from Finland, Lapland and St. Petersburg, Russia. “We had eight flights, a train, and a fantastic trip!” And in April, Lynne Besse, owner of The Travel Scene, is headed to “Philippines, Puerto Galera and Dumaguete” to go scuba diving. “I’m leading a group and we’re all going.”
Ireland? Check. That’s where Lyndsee DeMoss, owner of Dream Catcher Travel, is headed to at the end of March on a Globus tour with 30+ other top-producing agents! Tahiti? Gretchen Machnik Soares, owner and founder of Gulls Way Travel, says she’s headed there on Friday for a 10-night cruise and then five days on land. “Can’t wait!” And Jennifer Honaker plans to head to Lima, Peru with her husband for several days before “we board a cruise that will transit the Panama Canal and visit several ports before embarking in Miami. We are escorting a group of travelers from around the U.S. and Canada.”
Many of you are already in or headed to the Caribbean, which has stayed relatively calm in the face of this viral storm. Dive travel specialist Rita Fitzpatrick says, “I’m in the Bahamas right now (hotel stay). Off to Saint Lucia in May; Ireland in August; Mexico in December. Lots of domestic USA travel in-between. I’m 60+, in good health—body & spirit! Keep on traveling!” Destination wedding and romance travel specialist Kelly Neonakis-Morash, owner of Sunshine Vows, adds that she’s headed to Jamaica in April, the Dominican Republic in June and the ABC Islands (Aruba, Bonaire, Curacao) in September. And Jennifer Elysia, luxury vacation specialist at Lighthouse Travel and owner at All In Vacations, is in Grenada “right now,” while Sharon Santiago wants everyone to know that it’s “a ridiculously beautiful day at the Four Seasons in corona-free Nevis. ????”
Patti McLaughlin Rossetti, of ASAP Travel, just landed in Punta Cana, where she notes the “airport is crazy,” and she wants to remind travelers that just “nine months ago the media was blasting this beautiful island. How soon we forget. Live and travel on please.” And because she’s continuing to “travel on,” Amy Grubbs McHugh, co-owner of Dream Makers Vacation, notes that she “booked a last-minute trip to Jamaica and am leaving Friday. I plan on posting a ton of pics on social media. I want to prove a point that we are not afraid to travel. I look forward to following and commenting on all of our mutual trips! :)”
Meanwhile, Chantelle Nugent, a Cruise Planners travel advisor, says she’s headed to “Punta Cana this week, then Cabo in a few weeks.” Speaking of Mexico, Kari Rae says she’s headed to Cancun for spring break with her husband and two kids. She stresses that “none of us have an autoimmune disease, nor elderly.” And Sandi McConnell, a destination wedding specialist at Destination Weddings Travel Group, will be there in two weeks as part of a Palace FAM, and then come next month, she’ll be heading south again to Playa Mujeres/Cancun for some “personal time.” And Donna Giger Mondt of EZN Travel can report that everything is looking good in Cancun as she’s there “right now. Love it here.”
Although the messaging from top government officials has been to advise against cruising, travel advisors are sailing away.
Vicky Garcia, Cruise Planners’ co-owner and chief operating officer, says she’s leaving “this Friday to host a full ship charter of the AmaMagna out of Budapest to host our Elite Summit (top-producing Cruise Planners travel advisors) for seven days. We can’t wait!!!”
Kristi Kincaid, owner of Curated Cruises, is taking two cruises this month: Virgin Voyages on the 17th and MSC Seaside on the 28th.” Tim Skamel, owner of Skamel Travel, adds, “Leaving on a Mexican cruise aboard Carnival Panorama this Saturday, March 14.” Amy Becker, meanwhile, of Cascade Travel, says she’s “on the NCL Joy now, visiting the Mexican Riviera. No worries.” And Andrew Lawrence is “currently on board the Celebrity Summit in the Southern Caribbean and having a wonderful time! ????????????”
Stacey Singleton Cabell, owner of Starstuff Travel, is “actively searching for a cruise to take in-between [her several U.S. trips] to show our clients it is safe for those who are healthy.” And Mona Faison of M&G Getaway Travels Inc. is cruising on “the MSC Seaside March 28 for a week with my group cruise (16 of us). I am so looking forward to having a great safe cruising of a time.” (check out her meme to the right)
Vanessa McGovern, co-founder of Gifted Travel Network, is also sailing with a group as she’s hosting Gifted Travel Network’s top producers cruise on Uniworld’s Normandy sailing out of Paris! “All 10 advisors and guests are traveling together!” Mike Brown, an advisor with Expedia CruiseShipCenters, will be heading to Asia, to Thailand, Cambodia & Vietnam, with clients on a river cruise.
For other advisors it’s a 5-day West Coast cruise on Carnival from San Francisco; a cruise in the Bahamas in three weeks; a Celebrity cruise in the Caribbean; a Norwegian Fjords cruise in May/June; a river cruise Basel to Amsterdam on March 22; a 7-day cruise to St.Thomas, San Juan, Dominican Republic and Grand Turk in early May; a 4-night Tulip Time river cruise at the end of March; and a sailing on Carnival Liberty this Friday.
Exploring Our Own Backyard
Danna N David Kimpel, of Always Travel with Danna, who is traveling from Florida to other areas in U.S., is making plans to travel in May out of the U.S., adding that “clients are still booking; those booked months ago are traveling now. Feeling blessed and trying to remain positive.” Megan Austin, meanwhile, of Anthem Travel, is headed to the National Parks for spring break, while Theresa Veneto of Mullen Travels is leaving this weekend for Savannah, and is leading a group to Morocco in mid-April. And Melinda Fay is headed to Alaska in May and June, while Brenda Mlinar will be heading to Hawaii in two weeks.
To see more of where your peers are traveling, head over to Recommend’s Facebook page. To read about Sr. Editor Andrea Doyle’s travels to Colorado just last week, click here, and to read about coronavirus’ impact on your peers’ bookings, click here.