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Every day seems to bring new, surprising and difficult information about the COVID-19 (coronavirus disease 2019) pandemic. As the travel community digests the news and works to pivot and adjust, it’s important that we remain united and focused on tackling these challenges together.
TravelAge West is committed to providing travel advisors with content focused on navigating the coronavirus outbreak. This series — a complement to our travel advisor series — will center on how consortia and host agencies are supporting members during this time.
In this first installment, David Harris, CEO of Ensemble Travel Group, discusses measures the organization is taking to provide travel advisor members with the support they need as the coronavirus pandemic evolves, and he also notes some of the positivity that has arisen from this difficult situation.
What is Ensemble is doing to support members during the COVID-19 crisis? We have taken a “facts over fear” approach since this crisis began and focused our efforts on what we can do. That includes providing members with the tools and resources they need to provide clients with the relevant information they need.
We are also providing weekly updates on how Ensemble is responding to the situation; we created a page on our member portal with regular updates from all the relevant State Departments for the U.S. and Canada, as well as public health agencies and trade industry organizations; and we are sharing regular posts via social media. We are also relaying information as it becomes available on how members who need it and are eligible can apply for the loans available from the Small Business Administration or, in some cases, directly through the state.
There is no way to sugarcoat it: Things are going to be tough for a while. But, we also believe that by coming together to support one another, we will come through this a stronger and more unified company and community.
How is the organization finding its members’ states of business and states of mind? While there is certainly a fair amount of anxiety and concern, we are also seeing a tremendous amount of support and solidarity within the organization. We also just launched a new #EnsembleStrong Facebook group page to help members connect with one another more easily.
The hope is that this will provide a forum to share ideas on how everyone is coping both personally and professionally during this difficult time. It is also being used as central place to share some of the uplifting and inspirational messages that members have been receiving from clients expressing gratitude and appreciation for their help. Like all our colleagues, our members have been working tirelessly to help clients get home, obtain refunds and rebook future travel for when regular life resumes. One positive side note in all of this: It has truly reinforced the value of working with a professional travel advisor.
How can travel advisors best stay updated with the organization during this time? We are regularly in touch with members electronically, and I’ve had numerous personal conversations with many of our members. We really want them to know that we are here for them during this difficult time. There is no way to sugarcoat it: Things are going to be tough for a while. But, we also believe that by coming together to support one another, we will come through this a stronger and more unified company and community.
We are also working closely with and supporting the various industry advocacy organizations, including American Society of Travel Advisors and Cruise Lines International Association. These organizations are working overtime to advocate on behalf of our industry, and we have encouraged our members to support their efforts in everything from responding to surveys to contacting their own representatives in Washington, D.C., to voice their support for federal relief.
The DetailsEnsemble Travel Groupwww.ensembletravel.com