The PM’s roadmap has certainly lifted confidence but the stack of ‘unknowns’ is still a real issue, says Swords Travel co-director Mark Swords.
As we all eagerly awaited the announcement from Boris Johnson a couple of weeks ago, there was huge anticipation as to whether the travel sector was finally going to be acknowledged and whether we were going to get a roadmap out of this nightmare.
After the announcement, I still didn’t feel hugely comforted. But fast-forward into March and it’s amazing how much confidence people have got from the government’s roadmap.
Our enquiries have doubled since the PM’s update and bookings are coming in too. It’s fantastic.
But every enquiry also comes with a multitude of questions, and some of these are impossible to answer until we get further clarity from the government.
Lack of clarity
Clients are really keen to book, but they’re also very anxious about the possible complications and want to know who will be responsible for their refund if something goes wrong.
Our biggest challenge is that there is no clear answer as to what restrictions will be in place. People are asking whether testing will be required. And they want to know if they’ll be able to cancel free of charge if they find out they have to quarantine in a hotel.
We’ve explained to clients that we simply cannot predict what will happen. But we’re also seeing some confidence for the summer season. It’s a Catch-22 situation: we really want the bookings, but we also don’t want to be dealing with hundreds of cancellations into the summer.
“Clients are really keen to book, but they’re also very anxious about the possible complications and want to know who will be responsible for their refund.”
As regards destinations, we’ve seen quite a variation. Europe is out in front, then the Maldives, and the Caribbean for winter 2021-22. We’ve also seen really strong ski sales for winter 2021-22.
Unsurprisingly, last week’s Budget made absolutely no mention of travel. It seems we’ve been lumped somewhere between non-essential retail and hospitality, rather than getting some much-needed sector-specific support.
What really frustrates me is that there is no clarity on anything, be it restrictions, grant schemes, testing or anything else on the list.
Pressure still on
Despite having dealt with this for a year now, there is still immense pressure. There are days when things feel completely hopeless, while on other days some positive news makes you want to get up and fight.
In the past week, I’ve found it extremely difficult to motivate myself. I’ve suffered sleepless nights and felt major stress. So I’ve decided to take a week off as I need some time out. Even though there is nowhere to go, it will be good to just get some downtime away from the current chaos.
“Whatever happens, it’s worth remembering there is always someone worse off in life and we have to be thankful there are better times to come.”
Hopefully, I will come back feeling revitalised and ready to fight on until we get those first clients away on their holidays – in May, all being well.
Whatever happens, it’s worth remembering there is always someone worse off in life and we have to be thankful there are better times to come. We have seen some amazing results already from the vaccine, and big drops in Covid cases and deaths recently.
Long may this continue.
Fingers crossed for our May fam
Despite not knowing whether Greece will be able to accept us this May, we’ve decided to go ahead and plan our first fam trip for our seven associates since we launched our new business model last year. At the end of May, the team and I will hopefully be heading out to the amazing Sani Resort in Halkidiki for three nights to see all the wonderful experiences it has to offer. Sani and Ikos are among our top-selling resorts, but some of the associates have yet to see them, so we cannot wait to get off that plane and start experiencing some Greek hospitality. Yamas!
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