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Agent Diary: ‘We’ve got great expectations for the coming year’

The rollercoaster ride continues, but with testing relaxed all the signs are very positive now, says Spear Travel’s Kim Kent

Well, what a year 2021 was. Despite the rollercoaster, the resilience of the travel industry endures and here we are in 2022 with great expectations for a more productive year.

Great news that the pre-departure travel Covid test for arrivals from overseas has been scrapped, and the lifting of the requirement to self-isolate on arrival until receiving a negative PCR result is another bonus.

Despite the rollercoaster, the resilience of the travel industry endures and here we are in 2022 with great expectations for a more productive year

All the signs are very positive now, and sales are encouraging.

We’ve put together a full schedule of social media marketing posts, changed our window display to reflect sunny times and put up a selection of offers showing the many different holidays we sell. On top of that, we’ve done a magazine mail-drop to try to boost enthusiasm and confidence.

Hopefully, all this will encourage our clients to book and at least have something to look forward to. Goodness knows, we all need it!

Christmas chaos

I have heard stories lately of the bizarre circumstances surrounding some Christmas trips and I can only hope they are not repeated.

Clients travelling with Hurtigruten on an expedition cruise to Norway received an email saying the Norwegian government had banned the sale of alcohol from midnight the day they were travelling. One client emailed me asking what the situation was on the ship. I contacted Hurtigruten and was assured in writing they would serve alcohol until midnight.

Not five minutes later I received an email from guest relations saying no alcohol would be served, in line with the regulations.

I ask that before suppliers contact customers – which they seem to do direct all the time these days – they get their facts straight

Clearly the two departments were working at cross-purposes.

This caused a massive problem and upset both the client and us. While I appreciate things change all the time, I do ask that before suppliers contact customers – which they seem to do direct all the time these days – they get their facts straight.

The question we continually get asked is what clients need to do in order to travel, and what happens if they test positive before departure or when they return home. It’s the million-dollar question and where we can use our expertise to help.

Close call

In December, we had a £55k booking for a family to go to the Maldives. Everyone was very excited until two of the party got Covid. ‘What do we do now?’, they asked. It then became apparent they didn’t have any insurance, despite having assured us all was in place.

If Only pulled out all the stops and they flew the following day. What a relief after another close call

As you can imagine, this caused some panic and many conversations with the client and If Only. The Maldives does not accept recovery Covid-19 certificates, so this made the timing before departure very tight. The following days were tense and all their tests were positive. The day before the clients were due to depart they went to Randox at East Midlands airport to test again – and they were negative! By this time, they had missed their flight, but If Only pulled out all the stops and they flew the following day. What a relief after another close call.

With everything that has happened recently, let’s hope we can now look forward to a healthier and more prosperous new year.

Frustrated client

In August 2020, I booked a fantastic 50-night cruise to South America, to depart this month.

There were many elements to this booking that were time-consuming and complicated, but I enjoyed working on it.

As time passed, many questions were raised about ever-changing rules and regulations.

We received little communication from Oceania, as they had no answers to our questions, which was frustrating for the client.

Then, 20 days before travel, the cruise was cancelled, albeit with a full refund. This was very disappointing for the client, who wanted to travel, although I suppose it’s better safe than sorry.

Thank you to Oceania for protecting my commission.

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