In my long life of being a travel professional, I became sort of a guru in the travel industry. In few months it will be 30 interesting years, good, bad and even ugly. Ugly - professionally is when I ask myself what else can I do instead of being an expert in my favorite field of travel business?!
First Ugly started on September 11 when the world stopped and travel just died for about 3 month, not a phone call… but then it started ringing off the hook because people realized how short life can be and it’s time to visit parents, kids, bucket list places.
So it became great for many years again, great business for US passport agency because of International buzz destinations. Flourishing business for so many travel agencies. In 2018 my travel agency Travel and Cruises celebrated 25 years in business, a huge success and I threw a party for over 200 clients with food, drinks and gifts thanking my dear clients for letting me be part of their life’s and making sure they have great vacations. We made future travel plans, paid deposits, finals for 2020-2021…and then March 2020 hits and world travel just stopped. Another ugly in travel got a new start, world has changed within days. I will never forget April 2020, I cried, I screamed and I kept canceling all those trips for my clients. It lasted the whole month. Endless calls from distressed clients, me waiting on calls on their behalf, hours and hours trying to cancel or at least get a future travel credit when no refunds were offered. We didn’t get paid for all this work, actually we had to pay back all of the commissions to the tour and cruise companies that already paid us, the money that was already spent. We were left with nothing, just lots of work. There was no end to this ugly ordeal, retuning money back to clients and to the companies, left us without any income for months and months. Many agencies went under, but I stayed on and made sure that All my clients got money back or at least full credits. I remember people telling me - oh forget it we will just dispute with the credit card, but being honest and a hardworking person - I insisted on being a true travel professional and kept staying on the phone for long hours. Had nightmares that it will never stop, it was a tough year indeed. Then little by little few “brave” travelers started traveling again, some went abroad down to friendly Mexico. It felt good to show by own example that it was safe to travel again, just don’t give up.
So many travel agencies closed their doors and few brave ones decided to continue working from home and this worked. Slowly our industry is back in business and 2023 is showing a huge jump in travel business. And again just like after September 11, people realized how important it is to get out of the house and see the World. Phones are ringing off the hook once again and this time all those baby boomers and younger have retired and took on luxury travels, most decided not to save for next time, but make well-deserved boutique luxurious travel arrangements using a Travel Professional. So many people finally realize the role experienced travel agent plays booking their expensive bucket list adventure!!!