Continuing our Lockdown Life series, this time we chat with Suzanne Cumpston, Sales & Commercial Manager at the highly respected Smith & Strachan Travel in Cowbridge, Vale of Glamorgan. Suzanne has worked in the travel industry for nearly three decades, previously working for TUI and Kuoni in management positions. Suzanne has a unique perspective on how the coronavirus is affecting business and travel in general. We find out more.
Are people still booking holidays?
There are obviously less enquiries at the moment for this year, 2020, as the world has temporarily locked down. However, we are having requests, enquiries and bookings for departures toward the end of this year, as well as 2021; even 2022 (yes, believe it or not, we have some tour operators on sale for 2022!) This week my team have booked a five star trip to Barbados for June 2021 for a honeymoon couple. Ah the thought, how many of us could do with sipping a cocktail on a tropical beach with the warm sun kissing our faces right now? I know I could!
Should we be booking holidays? And if so, where?
Booking a holiday at the moment is a personal choice. Some people I speak to are understandably anxious and others cannot wait to book and have something to look forward to. Currently and due to the ongoing situation regarding Covid-19, the Foreign Commonwealth Office have advised against all but essential travel. Therefore, many tour operators have suspended operations until 31st July 2020. However, there are some superb offers for future dates and seasons available (up until 2022). At the moment, I would say prices are very good, however, I have a feeling that may change as 2021 is getting busy both with deferred 2020 holidays and clients who are forward planning.
Mindful of the changing circumstances and uncertainty around worldwide travel at the moment, many of our travel partners have launched new ‘Flex’ products which allows you to book then switch your holiday to alternative travel dates without charge right up until up seven days before departure, which I think is a fabulous initiative. Change your mind, change your holiday without charges for your peace of mind.
Our sister company, Strachan Sports Travel, are a leading United Kingdom company specialising in providing team travel services including outbound and incoming tours, plus supporters programmes for all major international sports events. For more information email firstname.lastname@example.org or call our specialist team on 01446 776212 and see www.strachantravel.com At the moment, the team are incredibly busy with the launch the Lions Tour 2021.
What is your advice to customers who have booked holidays for later in the year?
For later this year, and at present, my advice is to hold fire, wait and see what happens. However, at any point you may want to amend your holiday to a later date, dependent on the terms and conditions of the operator you have booked with. We take full and official advice from the Foreign & Commonwealth Office as well as our reliable tour operators. Feel free to call either myself or one of my team for further information. Even if you have not booked a holiday with us, we will be happy to help. Call 01446 774018 or email email@example.com
Why would we book with an agent rather than direct online?
There are now more benefits than ever to book with us, as a strong and reliable Independent Travel Agency:
Security is on everyone’s mind at the moment. When you book with us you are fully protected with our ABTA, ATOL & IATA licenses.
Sam Smith Travel has been present on Cowbridge High Street for nearly twenty years (it’s our birthday this July), serving both our local community in Cowbridge, the Vale and beyond.
Support your local High Street!
Experience. We genuinely are experts in the wonderful world of travel. Our nine strong team are exceptionally well travelled – you could call it a ‘Wanderlust’. There is literally hardly a continent or country that we haven’t visited and we relish nothing more than giving you ‘insider’ tips on the best beaches, restaurants and all the hidden gem information.
For a comprehensive list of destinations visited, please visit our website www.samsmithtravel.com and look at our Meet the Team section. We hope you’ll be impressed.
Competitive prices. Our message is strong yet simple. Please allow us the opportunity to offer our experience/inspiration and skill to provide the most competitive quotes, which often undercut the web prices.
We keep you updated with the very latest offers, updates, competitions and news on our Facebook page @SamSmithTravelCowbridge
And, of course, nothing beats the personal touch. In an ever-changing world, when you book with us, we are here from the very beginning until the day you arrive back from your holiday. A very good example of this is how we are dealing with the current world Coronavirus crisis.
We are able to communicate with all of our clients by phone, email, Zoom or WhatsApp. As per Government guidelines we are fully operational and working safely from home as a Virtual Call Travel Business. This enables us to offer whichever contact option is preferable to our clients. We also offer an appointment service, just call or email us with a convenient time to talk or video call, for up to the minute advice on holidays already booked or future travel plans. When you call us, you are not passed from pillar to post with prerecorded messages or transferred to an out-sourced call centre. You get to speak immediately to one of our team. We are also seeing an influx of clients returning to book with us rather than book individual elements of their trip themselves, where they may not be protected and in light of Coronavirus would rather have the support of an ABTA/ATOL protected Travel Agent.
If customers booked a holiday and had to cancel, would they be insured? What’s your advice in this regard please?
That depends on the circumstances and we would recommend they check with their Tour Operator, as well as their individual Insurance Policy details & the Foreign Office advice. With regard to the Coronavirus situation, we take all our advice from the Foreign & Commonwealth office. As always, we are here for up to the minute advice and support. Again, feel free to call us for that information, even if you have not booked a holiday with us, as we are aware that some tour operators are impossible to get hold of and are having bad press as a result. My team are more than happy to take that pressure of you and help.
Are you confident that the travel industry will weather this storm?
There is no doubt that the global travel and tourism Industry is facing it’s biggest ever challenge. With Sam Smith Travel, it’s personal. We will do anything we possibly can to help our customers get through this challenging time. I personally love this industry and our entire team are looking forward to getting back to a ‘new normal’. In the meantime, if you find yourself at home dreaming of a holiday in the not-too-distant future, whether that is long haul, luxury, culture, boutique, ski, beach, your honeymoon, a group holiday or a Cruise, please call us on 01446 774018 or email me firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thank you Suzanne, we appreciate you taking the time…
Just a last few words from me, I would like to send my very best wishes to all our loyal clients as well as new and future ones. Stay safe and look after yourselves. Don’t stop dreaming, the world will be taking off again soon!
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