When asked how they or their customers feel about the end of COVID-19 testing requirements coming into the United States, travel advisors kept repeating one word: relief.
“A huge collective sigh of relief from every guest I spoke to,” said Becky Smith, owner of Becky’s Travel Biz, a member agency of TRAVELSVERS.
Richard Steve, franchisee of Cruise Planners echoed Smith. Customers are just starting to communicate. The general consensus is a sense of satisfaction! “
Justin Smith, president of The Evolved Traveler, a member of the Ensemble Travel Group, told TMR, “I think lifting COVID testing has provided as much sigh of relief as any tangible results.”
Jamie Jones, president of WhirlAway Travel, a Signature member agency, said word of the cancellation was the best news she could get on Friday morning. “Our clients were very happy to hear that the test requirements had been cancelled. We didn’t have to answer many questions – most of which they just got.”
Dream Vacations franchise owner Rhonda Day agreed, as did Benny Rushing, owner of Four Points Travel, an independent agency in the Avoya Network.
“The clients I have who are due to travel this summer are very happy,” Day said. “He’s been telling guests for two months we’re hoping it will be soon, but as the days went on, I started wondering.”
“My customers are delighted,” Rushing said.
cause for concern
Feeling comfortable is understandable. Both Stieff and Jones mentioned relatives who were recently stuck abroad due to positive COVID-19 tests.
In Jones’ case, she and her mother were stuck in Slovenia for five days after her mother tested positive. They had flight coverage, and Jones enjoyed exploring Slovenia while her mother recovered.
For Stieff’s aunt, the extension cost $4,000 because she refused travel protection.
It is something many customers worry about.
“A group of us will be going on the Princess trip to Alaska next month and the biggest fear most of the guests had when we got back from Vancouver, they were very worried about having to quarantine for ‘x’ days before they became pregnant,” Becky Smith told Travel Market Report.
In fact, some customers chose to fly five hours from Vancouver to Seattle before flying back home, just so they could avoid the test requirements.
Easier for service customers
The end of internal testing requirements has not only provided a sense of comfort to advisors and clients. It also made advisor jobs a little easier.
“It definitely makes my job easier in the fact that I don’t have to advise my clients on how and where to take the test and what documentation is required,” Rushing told TMR.
“I’ve been getting a lot of ‘what if’ questions from guests, so those were put to the end,” Becky Smith said.
“I have no doubts that things will be easier,” added Stef.
But Day said there is still a lot of confusion. “There are discrepancies between places that need vaccines, requirements for cruises and so on. Hopefully, as everything continues to lax, there will be less confusion.”
Jones told TMR that the biggest thing he did drop testing requirements for consultants was to reduce the burden of having to deal with problem clients internationally, especially in Europe that was already “exploding at the seams.”
But, she added, this is just a drop in the bucket as consultants are still dealing with service issues from providers, longer wait times and canceled flights.
Justin Smith also said the change makes “things easier for both consultants and consumers,” but added, “I don’t think anyone should indulge in a false sense of security. While the new policy is in 90-day increments, it can be changed at any time if necessary.” command.”
He’s also worried that because there will be no more fear of being quarantined, people who feel sick will choose to travel, even if they have COVID-19.
“I also think this has the potential to be a double-edged sword… We have to be aware of the fact that COVID is still a part of everyday life.”
A wave of bookings coming?
Justin Smith said, while it comforts many travelers, he doesn’t think the change will produce the “business tsunami” that some in the industry expect.
“First, everyone knew what the rules were, we got used to them, and once we saw the majority of the travel restrictions had been lifted, people wanted to travel. It wasn’t my experience that the requirement to get a COVID test to go back to the US was a huge barrier to that. Second, it’s possible that The higher cost of air is now compensating for some impact advisors who might otherwise see the restrictions lifted.”