What We Should Know About the Covid Vaccine and the Requirements of Different Countries

Dear TAs,

For members of the travel industry the big question is still: Might some countries require a COVID-19 vaccination for entry?

Probably. That is not my opinion, but is that of Jan L. Jones, a professor of hospitality and tourism at the University of New Haven in Connecticut. There are many African countries that already require vaccinations against such diseases as yellow fever prior to entry, which makes me wonder if COVID-19 may be next. Because of this, I too think that some countries may specifically require the vaccine, and others may require quarantine.

It is going to be quite difficult for travelers to keep track of the different requirements for the countries they are interested in visiting. There may even be different rules for different travelers caused by risk factors in different points of origin, and even passenger age.

Airlines might find themselves being first to require proof of vaccination.  In November, the chief of Australia’s Qantas air stated that the airline would require passengers to be vaccinated before boarding for departure to and from the country.

Israel recently announced that it will be issuing a “green passport” to citizens who have received the COVID-19 vaccine. This will free the vaccinated from certain restrictions, including clearance for international travel without a COVID-19 test. There has not yet been an announcement about whether travelers from other countries are required to be vaccinated before they arrive in Israel.

In the U.S., Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, recently told Newsweek, “Anything is on the table. Anything is possible, of course.” As distribution of the vaccine ramps up, it is possible that we will see some states in the U.S. requiring visitors to be vaccinated. The decisions regarding this type of requirements will be left to the individual states.

We all have our own opinions regarding the COVID-19 vaccine, and whether or not we believe that a vaccine requirement is an infringement of our rights to visit a country. Right now, it is still too soon for a definitive solution. I believe that by this time next year we will have a much better idea. 

Cheers,

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Do you have what it takes?

Dear TAs (Travel Agents, Advisors),

You are a travel agent with vision, great organizational skills, and people skills. Double check the list below to make sure you are using all the right tools to ensure your continued success in selling travel to your clients – present and future.

PEOPLE SKILLS
To be able to sell travel successfully, travel agents should possess excellent communication skills.  They need these skills to be able to inspire and influence people. In the role of travel agent, you are sure to meet many different and interesting people, and no day will be the same as the next.   The ability to work with different budgets while managing a client’s expectations is essential.  You should be tolerant and talented at sales.  With your enthusiasm, you can get travelers the best value for their money and meet or exceed their expectations for a wonderful experience.

BE A SELF-STARTER
Successful travel agents are self-motivated and possess a lot of drive. There are endless opportunities to learn and grow with the intent of becoming an expert in your field. Take advantage of training, familiarization trips and webinars to learn as much as you can about destinations, suppliers, tour operators and industry trends.  Find a niche or specialization so you can offer greater value to certain clients and grow your business. You can create your own packages and attract even more clients interested in what you have to offer.  

ORGANIZATION
The job of a travel agent requires great skill at planning.  You need to juggle phone calls, bookings, and communicate effectively every day with clients, tour operators, airlines and so many others.  You need to keep track of flights, pricing and payments, hotel reservations, and so much more.  Great organization and an ability to multi-task is essential for success.

VISION AND FORESIGHT
Travel agents are visionaries. The get the inspiration to plan magnificent vacations from their clients’ wishes and use their own knowledge and experience to create unforgettable experiences for travelers. Using your own vision combined with that of the client is an integral component to a well-planned trip. You must understand and “see” your clients’ desired experience before making all the necessary arrangements.

KNOWLEDGE OF THE INTERNET
As a travel agent, your biggest competition can be found on the internet.  It is essential to know what’s happening online.  Before coming to you, many clients will already have researched the places they want to visit. They are already aware of certain travel and accommodation options. Knowing what they know will give you a huge advantage and an opportunity to show what you can do better.  You will also need to use the internet to market yourself – both on your own website and on social media channels.

I am always cheering for you!

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Blogs @ http://www.travelwithrosana.com

 

Update on Cruise Status

Dear TAs (Travel Agents/Advisors),

It is hard to know when cruising in the U.S. will come back – most cruise lines have cancelled itineraries at least through the end of April 2021.  The cruise industry is hoping that cruises will resume soon – even in a very limited capacity.   As of February 2, a total of 64 cruise ships from various cruise lines have applied for approval to operate during the first phase of the Conditional Sailing Order. Of those, a total of 63 vessels, or 98%,  were given ‘green’ status.

Green ship status means that CDC believes the ship is currently unaffected by COVID-19 based on information provided by the operator of the cruise ship. The information provided to the CDC to obtain ‘green’ status verifies zero confirmed cases of COVID onboard over the past 28 days, proper quarantining procedures in place, and current paperwork on file. ‘Yellow’ ships were once designated as green but are awaiting results following a potential positive COVID test. ‘Red’ ships either had a confirmed positive COVID test or violated a different government protocol.

Carnival – Across all of their brands, Carnival currently has 30 ships operating or planning to operate in U.S. waters during the initial phase. Approximately 97% of their ships are ‘green’ including Carnival Dream, Ecstasy, and Miracle, and 4 additional ships from Carnival’s other brands. Carnival Pride’s status was recently changed from red from green.

Royal Caribbean – There are 24 Royal Caribbean ships across all brands currently operating or planning to operate in U.S. waters during the initial phase. The current CDC status of 100% of their ships is ‘green’.

Norwegian – Norwegian currently has 4 ships across all brands operating or planning to operate in U.S. waters during the initial phase. The upgrade of Norwegian’s Pride of America from red to green has resulted in 100% of their ships having  ‘green’ status.

Hopefully, we will be onboard soon! Bon Voyage!

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Are you taking advantage of Zoom?

Dear Travel Agents/Advisors,

I admire creativity, especially new ideas that come from necessity during difficult times. These are the ideas that last longer and are more impressive to the community.

Zoom is a great tool for Travel Agents/Advisors to promote destinations and afterward use the venue for questions and answers. It can also be used to organize groups and even to promote single clients looking for potential roommates. It is more effective than a webinar because people can communicate between themselves and at the same time, the presenter. The Travel Agent will have the opportunity to show what a fun and knowledgeable person she/he is.

Using videos of destinations, and maybe having local tour guides to show some great places to visit, now is the perfect time to invite clients and prospective ones to come and “virtually travel” to a place before paying the deposit.

A great idea is to record the Zoom meeting live, and later promote it through social media and YouTube, and on your website. Advise your crowd before recording that you will be doing so, so if someone has an issue with having their face shown they can turn off their camera. They can also use their initials instead of their name if they prefer.

Practice ahead of time with this platform. Avoid reading from a text; be natural and speak from your heart. So the presenter does not have to multitask, have someone else in charge of authorizing people into the Zoom and mute everyone but the speaker. Once you open for Q&A let your assistant open each individual microphone and close after the question to prevent background noises that can be very annoying.

Remember that your audience will be engaged if you are fun, knowledgeable and show yourself to be an expert on the subject and with Zoom. There are more travelers now than before looking for more information from a real person instead of search engine. Make sure you grab them before someone else does.

You can do it!

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Dear Travel Agents/Advisors,

Have you noticed an increase in bookings for 2021 and 2022? If you haven’t yet, you should get ready! Statistics show that 80% of people who traveled in 2019 will be traveling again in 2021. Most of them at least 2 times this year.

The number of people renewing or getting a new passport has increased. Check it out – and be aware that they don’t want any pictures showing glasses, in case you need them for reading.

As a Travel Advisor make sure your client’s passport is ready in time for their trip. Check the requirements and type of Covid tests accepted by CDC and the destination. Unfortunately, many airlines will not verify that everything is in order, and once the client arrives in the destination, she/he might find out they haven’t had the “right” test for Covid, and they may have to quarantine or get back on the next plane.

If you are using a Tour Operator, make sure all information is updated and that you trust this company. If you are the one putting the package together, make sure you have all information updated. Now, more than ever before, clients who have done their own travel arrangements in the past will be trusting travel advisors – even the most skeptical.

Many will be traveling for the first time and will need more TLC. They may have never been in a foreign country, or maybe never been on a plane before (can you remember your first time?)

Give 100% of your attention, and you will definitely have those clients for life!

Cheers!

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Ready or not, here we come!

The Best Kind of Clients

Dear Travel Agents/Advisors,

If you ask me where the best place to spend your money to attract the best kind of clients is, I will always answer:

1. in specializing your company in something you are good at

2. investing in attracting repeat clients and getting referrals.

By now, you have seen how I like to compare Travel Agents/Advisors with doctors. If you think I am stretching the truth too much, maybe you are not thinking about it carefully enough, or maybe you are not valuing your services enough. People coming back from a bad vacation are in a horrible mood –  even on the airplane coming home.

Travelers, like everyone else, prefer to be referred to a specialist, just as they would for a doctor. A travel advisor who sells everything could miss important information that may be very specific to some destinations. A travel advisor who specializes in the Caribbean for example, knows more about the possible direct flights to each island than someone who doesn’t specialize in that destination. They would know better which island caters to families and which ones are wedding destinations and so forth.

The same happens with client satisfaction. Like with doctors, clients will remember the name of their favorite Travel Agent. They love to brag and will make recommendations about how they got the best vacation. Repeat customer are essential to any business. They create the strong base of your business and their recommendations are your success –  the reason the business’ worth keeps growing. New clients coming to you from other venues are the icing on the cake (and now we’ll need to compare travel agencies with bakeries!)

Cheers!

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Travel Agent Concierge

Dear Travel Agents/Advisors,

OK, call me crazy or perhaps a visionary – but I believe that like a great, special and brave doctors, Travel Agents/Advisors with great experience, specialization, and an impeccable reputation will end up charging a yearly fee for providing concierge services.

Travel Agents are basically on call 24/7 and travelers now know how important a Travel Agent/Advisor is to making or breaking a great vacation. Unfortunately, we have had to go through a horrible pandemic in order for travelers to truly understand how important a travel advisor is to their well-deserved vacation. Now, who can “afford” to make ANY mistakes booking a vacation? It could be “deadly” if a traveler gets stuck in the wrong place. Booking travel themselves or through the internet is the same as using Google as their doctor.

But how do you, a travel advisor, build your business to a higher level like that? First, think about specializing. Secondly, your time is money. Don’t work for free – even if you just charge a consultation fee that will be deducted once the traveler purchases the tour. Third, recommendations from previous clients and repeat clients are your goal. Fourth, keep updated and learning, no one knows it all.

Remember always – we create our destiny! Don’t daydream about what could, should, would have been, if only…. You can do it. If you need to, reach out to others who can help. There are always good people ready to help hard workers.

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Good Bye 2020

Dear All,

We have all seen the memes depicting the year 2020 in a big, smelly trash bag being dumped into the garbage by avatars. I wish it was that easy to get rid of a bad year.

I want to focus on the personal growth we have all gone through, intentional or not, during 2020. Smart were the people who took that growth and did something with it. Most of the time, learning is a difficult experience, and growing takes us to another level – but many times leaves us with painful bruises.

Oh my, so many bruises! Sometimes the pain that comes with learning and growing is so deep that we cry in front of others because we can’t hide it anymore. I know I have! But afterwards, once we look around and know we’ve survived and grown, we can even smile again.

I love to read mystery books, especially whodunnits. I truly enjoy them. Most of the time I read the reviews of the book after I have read it to see how many people agree with my opinion. Sometimes, I do the opposite and I read the reviews first. But, once in a while, I’ll even read the spoiler alerts first, and will then read the book only IF I like who did it.

Honestly, I like that foresight. I wish we could live like that. I wish I could somehow read the spoilers about my life, not too often, but especially when the pain of growing is so intense. I would like to know how the following years will end up. The bruises will probably still be there, but my heart will feel stronger and I would know to take care of myself during those harder steps.

Wishing you all a safe 2021 full of safe travels and celebrations.

Cheers!

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Preview of 2021

Dear Travel Agents/Advisors,

This blog is a small preview of what will happen in 2021, and no, I don’t have a crystal ball to see the future. I am basing my opinion on my experience, common sense, and a lot of what we all experienced in 2020.

Let’s start:

  • For all of those who did not use 2020 to promote yourself as a Travel Expert, now is time to use all your tools, and no excuses. Make yourself and travel talking points EVERYWHERE you go. Nickname yourself as Travel, Trip, Caribbean, Europe, Safari Expert – or an expert in whatever you specialize in.  Everyone who can afford to, and also those who can’t, will be wanting to book tours with REAL TRAVEL AGENTS/ADVISORS and you cannot miss this party!
  • Learn as much as you can about Travel Insurance (the good and more inclusive policies) because of 3 major possible issues:

    1. People giving a down payment on a trip and realizing they cannot afford to go and wanting their money back.
    2. Countries that decide to welcome ONLY people who’ve had a COVID vaccine, and certain people may be against the vaccination and have already partially or fully paid for a trip.
    3. In case someone gets COVID and needs treatment in a foreign country, learn what the travel insurance covers.
    Get all the information from the best Travel Insurance policy money can buy and explain to your clients that is better to laugh at the end of the trip than to cry before, during or after!
  • Spend New Year’s Day reviewing your company’s Terms and Conditions (if you haven’t done that yet). After Covid, many things should be reviewed. If your Terms and Conditions do not include the word “Covid” in relation to a major unseen catastrophe in certain paragraphs, it is for sure in need of update.
  • Another piece of advice I give to those who want to have a great 2021 but feel like they need a guiding hand, find a mentor who can give you some guidance for a successful year.

God bless you and cheers!

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Vaccine and Cruises

Dear Travel Agents/Advisors,

As you know, through all of 2020 I dreamed of being on a cruise. The three cruises we had booked were all cancelled.

The Biden administration, which will begin on January 20, 2021, has set a goal of providing 100 million vaccines to Americans within the first 100 days of its presidency.

Travel agents and travelers alike wonder if the cruise industry is going to make vaccination mandatory to sail. There has been no official word about this, and a few weeks ago, one cruise line executive said that he did not foresee vaccination becoming a requirement to sail.

However, the vaccine has now been approved, and distribution will likely begin as soon as this week.  Every industry that relies on international travel is now having the same discussion and making the decision whether or not to require vaccination as a condition of travel.

Qantas Airline has decided to make vaccination mandatory to fly once the vaccines become widely available. As a country, Australia is also considering making it mandatory to have the vaccine to enter.

Several travel organizations and companies are considering the creation of a “vaccine passport.”  Vaccination is sure to be a big discussion, and what happens in the cruise industry will be a very interesting debate.  The result will more than likely depend on what happens in other countries and businesses in the travel industry.

If vaccination is required by destinations and airlines for travel, more people are likely to get vaccinated. At that point, the cruise industry may be better able to require it. It is surely going to be quite a topic of interest and discussion in the very near future!

What is your opinion?

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