Taking Control of Travel Fears

Nancy Linares, ARTA Chairwoman Judging by everything we’re hearing on CNN and gleaning from the daily newspapers, American troops may go to war in Iraq any minute. I don’t know about your agency, but I’m seeing some impact among my clients in Austin, Texas: some cancellations, some delayed bookings, a

By: Nancy Linares, ARTA Chairwoman

Judging by everything we’re hearing on CNN and gleaning from the daily newspapers, American troops may go to war in Iraq any minute.

I don’t know about your agency, but I’m seeing some impact among my clients in Austin, Texas: some cancellations, some delayed bookings, and lots of “What do you think we should do, Nancy?”

On one hand, I want my clients to keep traveling that’s how we make our living. On the other hand, travel agents don’t want their customers to be put in harm’s way.

Here’s some advice that we’ve gathered from the Association of Retail Travel Agents:

" Stay completely updated on the official announcements. Track U.S. State Department warnings and advisories daily. To protect yourself against any future claims, you should definitely give your clients a printed copy of the State Department advisory, if they choose to travel to one of these nations.

" Find out now before any war starts what your preferred travel insurance company says about covering war and terrorism incidents. Many insurers updated their exclusions for war and terrorism after 9/11. Pull out your sales materials, or call your sales rep, and find out what your travel insurance does and does not cover. You might go the extra mile and print these exclusions in a separate stuffer or flyer, which you can give to clients who purchase travel insurance from you.

" Stay updated, too, on what major airlines and other suppliers are saying about “cancel for any reason” waivers. In the past two weeks, several airlines and cruise lines have eased their cancellation policies in an effort to ease passengers’ concerns about war and terrorism threats.

" Make sure your professional liability/errors and omissions insurance is paid up. Now is not the time to go without it.

" Plan ahead right now and decide what types of travel you will promote in the event of war. Many travelers who put off vacations after 9/11 may still want to hit the road even if we go to war with Iraq. Families will still consider going someplace for summer vacations. And business travel (the essential trips, that is) will go on. Figure out this week if you want to focus on “homeland” cruises, U.S. FIT fly/drive trips, weekend getaways, or other types of travel that may appeal to clients concerned about flying overseas.

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