This quarantine merry-go-round is ruining not only my customers’ holidays but mine as well, says The Travel Snob, David Walker, a homeworker for Not Just Travel based in Nottingham.
So here I am on a sunbed again, having dodged a quarantine bullet, this time in Kefalonia.
I’m here with my partner and two friends, and we’ve shared fun, sun, laughter, plenty of ouzo, boat trips and lots of swearing – the last of these on my part, I should add.
“Whenever a border closes and islands go on to quarantine lists, another customer wants their refund or, worse, to cancel their booking.”
Whenever a border closes and islands go on to quarantine lists, as seven Greek islands (not including Kefalonia) did last week, another customer wants their refund or, worse, to cancel their booking.
Before we left we’d all agreed we would be fine with quarantine on our return if it were needed. The only extra thing was filling in the Passenger Locator Forms on our return, although I don’t see the point as they’re never checked.
My holiday buddies have jobs to go back to, but because they know that my business is my business, they’re used to me working the odd hour while we’re away to make a booking. We go on holiday together once a year, so they’re accustomed to hearing a loud “Yes!” whenever I’ve made a booking poolside.
What they are not used to are the screams of anguish they’ve been hearing from me on this holiday. These have been triggered whenever I’ve checked my emails and found yet another cancellation or started panicking because I’ve had to rebook someone going to Crete who needed to avoid quarantine.
“Over the last six months, I’ve been doing this job alone – now others are actually seeing how bad Covid has been for our industry.”
Don’t get me wrong, I’ve made bookings this week (mainly for next year, but one for Dubai in October – fingers crossed). But I’ve done far more cancellations and rebookings. It’s been interesting to be around people watching my mood go up and down. Over the last six months, I’ve been doing this job alone – now others are actually seeing how bad Covid has been for our industry. It’s OK for them, they are in the medical and wine industries (not the same company, I should clarify).
It’s all now a waiting game for the commission (or less commission, in some cases) but this has been my week. I’m still waiting to rebook a Crete holiday that was supposed to be going next week, but am waiting for the supplier to cancel it first; until then, there’s nothing I can do. Of course, the customer wants to know where I’m sending him instead, but I can’t confirm anything yet.
While my travel buddies loll around on inflatable flamingos and pizza slices in the pool overlooking the Med (we’re in an amazing James Villa), I’ve been sat here cursing the government decisions, cursing Covid in general, and cursing a few customers. It’s been a very different holiday for each of us from our different perspectives.
“While my travel buddies loll around on inflatable flamingos and pizza slices in the pool overlooking the Med, I’ve been sat here cursing the government decisions.”
Have I relaxed? Well, the ouzo has helped. But I’ve had a pile of work to do and customers to speak to before we get to that. I think the buddies who have accompanied me are very glad they are not in the travel industry right now.
We have at least made another booking for our own holiday next year: Croatia, here we come. Covid-permitting, of course.
A week’s a long time in travel
This week, I received emails from suppliers saying they needed to cancel bookings as Mauritius isn’t open. I have three bookings to Mauritius in October. One has rebooked; one is thinking about it; but the third already has holidays booked for next year – which is going to mean a £35k refund on this one. Meanwhile, a Maldives trip with a threeday stopover at the Burj Al Arab in Dubai for £54k has just become a Maldives trip for £38k. A US trip for Easter is in the process of being cancelled as the clients are scared of travelling. I’ve rebooked someone due to go to Crete for Corfu. And BA has cancelled the flights for a South Africa departure in November, so that’s been rebooked for October next year. When will it end?