The Monday Minute is a weekly feature at PAX dedicated to highlighting the movers, shakers, leaders and rule-breakers in Canada's travel agent community. Wanna be profiled? Wanna nominate someone? Email firstname.lastname@example.org!
Name: Jennifer Snitch
Business: Vision Travel, a Direct Travel company
Where do you live? London, ON
How long have you been a travel agent? For 22 years, since graduating from travel and tourism college.
What is your specialty? Cruising – both ocean and river (which I especially love for its intimacy), as well as European FITs. And being in Canada, of course, I have clients who love the sunny south!
What lessons has the pandemic taught you about yourself and the travel industry?
I’ve really upped my time management game as I am helping out with colleagues’ files. I’ve learned how to conduct myself when delivering bad news and when people don’t react well. I now appreciate how much patience and how many organizational skills I actually have! This has also been very educational for me, especially in regards to the importance of working with your preferred suppliers, because they really have your back. Moving forward, you have to think who you will work yourselves.
What has been your biggest challenge during the pandemic?
Keeping myself optimistic with my clients, providing guidance and staying abreast of policies that change on a daily basis. I don’t think eight months ago we had any idea where we’d be today.
What challenges, do you think, lie ahead as the travel economy gradually re-opens?
Restoring faith in the airlines, the tour operators, the insurance companies – that last one will be huge as so many clients have been confused and disappointed by them.
Tell us about one good thing that has come out of this situation.
I had one client who was so effusive in his thanks for my help – it was much appreciated. In the future, I think that people who have never used the services of a travel advisor will see the value and appreciate our professionalism and expertise. They’ll also stop postponing their dream trips: I foresee a huge pent-up demand. (Plus, we got to weed out some not-so-nice clients!)
What does the travel industry need to do to restore consumer confidence?
Be more flexible with change fees, more transparent about refunds and credits. The window for rebooking needs to be longer for when people are comfortable to travel again. And though it’s not a travel industry decision, a shortened quarantine period for returning Canadians and rapid COVID testing in airports would be a huge help.
What other travel trends do you think may emerge from this situation?
I think we’ll see more people travelling in their “bubble” – such as multi-gen and small group trips. Also, I believe older clients will be wanting to fulfill those bucket list trips – Africa, for example – sooner rather than later.
What advice do you have for travel advisors who are struggling during this tough time?
Hang in there. Make sure you have i's dotted and your t’s crossed. Make sure that waivers, such as COVID waivers, insurance waivers and credit card authorizations are properly signed and returned. Stay in constant contact with your clients for when they are ready to travel again because travel will be top of mind (and you want to make sure that you are the travel advisor they call!)
When travel restrictions are lifted and the risk is low, where are you travelling first?
Well, my fiancé and I had to postpone our wedding to August of next year, so we are very much looking forward to travelling to France on our river cruise honeymoon. Can’t wait to pack a suitcase again!
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