Jess Dennison, co-founder of Latin Routes, is offering to help fellow travel professionals to cut costs and save money amid the pandemic.

She made the offer of free financial advice on the Travel Gossip Facebook page and has been “overwhelmed” with the positive response.

There are more than 70 comments beneath her post, praising her kindness and positivity.

She has received six emails asking for financial advice and tips on saving cash.

“There has been a lot of negativity on social media and things have turned nasty,” she said.


MoreCoronavirus: Jess Dennison of Latin Routes reveals impact on business


“It struck me how some people are suffering financial pressures and I wondered what I can do to help.”

Since the pandemic struck, she has been “dissecting” the finances of the South American specialist operator, cutting out unnecessary expenses or renegotiating contracts.

“Some agents may not be aware of some ways to reduce their bills or switch providers. Saving £100 or £200 a month could make a big difference, and a fresh pair of eyes may well help,” she said.

“I don’t want to pry into their businesses but I can suggest cuts and payment plans or payment holidays.

“We’re all in survival mode and we may have another six months or more of this.”

Like other travel businesses, Latin Routes is having a challenging year, with refunds and repatriations in the early days of the pandemic.

However, the situation has now calmed down and some bookings are coming through for later in 2021 and 2022, with ‘bucket list’ destinations on the rise, such as Antarctica and Peru.

“This industry is a ‘people’ business and I felt the need to do something positive,” she added.

“If I can help just one person to save money, it will have been worth it.


Jess shares practical money saving tips

Energy bills
Sounds silly but submit your meter reading! Often the energy companies will estimate and charge you accordingly but as our businesses have been closed, submitting the actual meter reading will reduce the price you need to pay. Our energy bills went from £200/month to £35/month by doing this

Switch your energy supplier. Use Uswitch or Lookaftermybills or any online switch service. Sounds like a lot of work but it is so simple, they do all the work and will normally save you money and you can do it now, you don’t have to wait.

Pay with Direct debit, you will normally get a discount to do so of around 5% but every pound counts


Phones and Internet
Plenty of room to shop around here if you are out of contract. Diarise yourself for when you are out of contract if that’s not yet and enquire about the notice period as sometimes you will find it’s between one and three months’ notice.

Don’t be afraid to tell them that you are leaving- normally the further down the process you go to ending the relationship, the better deal you will get so hold your nerve! This applies to internet providers and phone providers too. 5g internet is now available in a lot of areas, so if you are paying for an expensive lease line then look at the savings on that as they tend to be good.


Automated renewals
Many things have automatic renewals- travel insurance is one. We found an automatic renewal payment for travel insurance from an ex-employee from 3 years ago still being debited once a year!

Spotify, Memberships, Experian, travel insurance- examples of things that have automatic renewals even if you only initially signed up for one year, in their Ts and Cs may state that they will auto renew it and therefore charge you.

So run a bank statement for the whole year and see what one off payments are coming out- chances are that you may not have noticed them as they are one-off or you are usually too busy to spend half an hour cancelling it. Get on the phone and cancel them. Normally you have to call pretty quickly to get a refund if they have already debited you, so keep an eye on any one-off payments you don’t recognise and contact the supplier immediately.


Rent
Negotiate hard and remember you have been closed for a number of months. Are you a good tenant and have always paid your rent on time? Highlight this to your landlord, who if that’s the case will not want to lose a good tenant. Make them aware that our industry is suffering more than most with a lack of income and ask for a three month relief (but start at six months!) or a 50% reduction.

Compare other vacant unit prices to make sure you are still getting a good deal and also highlight if there are a number of vacant units in your area as this will only help back up your case as the landlord is unlikely to fill it straight away.

If they won’t budge on rent relief then try to half the monthly payments for the next six months with the view to pay the balance when business returns to better levels. Most reasonable landlords if they can afford it should support you if you are a good tenant.

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