It certainly is a changed world since our last email newsletter just three short weeks ago. Instead of new resort announcements, photos, or promotions and sales, we wanted to address what is one of the most momentous and disruptive times the travel industry has ever seen.
Some of you reading this have never booked with us, but you’ve been kind enough to allow us to stay in touch with you via email with travel related news and promotions, and perhaps one day we’ll work on a vacation for you. For many others reading this, we’re honored that you’ve entrusted your memorable occasions to us. With some, we go so far back as to proudly say we may for example have booked your honeymoon to Jamaica, then a five year anniversary trip to Punta Cana, followed by a Disney vacation with kids, then a high school graduation trip to Cancun, and we might now be in the planning stages for that 20 years of marriage celebration on a river cruise. We’ve come to know many of you personally (or as personally as we can ‘online’) and have worked with your family and friends on other trips. Vacations are a special part of everyone’s lives, and we’re humbled to have been a small part of your planning.
Obviously we’re living in a different world now. Things change in the travel industry year after year, but nowadays it’s happening almost by the hour. For those whose plans have been affected, we sincerely hope we have been responsive, informative, flexible, and helpful when it came to making changes. We’re working within our suppliers’ policies and processes as best we can, trying to get everyone taken care of, but we know sometimes the outcome isn’t as positive as we’d all like it to be. That being said, we are here for you, and will continue to be here for you. As a small, family owned business, we depend solely on our clients having amazing experiences. We’ll do our very best to always live up to that. Many companies have pillars, or lists of principles, or rules they live by. We essentially have one, and if you ever quiz one of our Travel Consultants on it, they’ll all be able to answer it immediately: Do what’s best for our clients, no matter what it takes.
You may have read the horror stories about Costco Travel and Expedia with complaints about the inability to get a hold of anyone there to help, or even the tragic and sudden collapse of the online discount site Bookit, where people’s hotel stays weren’t paid for and in-destination guests had to pay twice, and Bookit’s phones/website/social media were simply turned off. Though no one is immune to unexpected events, rest assured we work with multiple well-established suppliers, many of them in business for over 40 years, who have layers of safeguards and robust travel insurance programs to ensure vacations work out the way they are supposed to. And while it may be a little while until we can get back to you with answers in these crazy days, you know where and how to find us. We hope this is one of our greatest strengths: not being a faceless booking engine or an inexperienced overwhelmed call center when a pressing need arises.
In terms of safety, all of our Travel Consultants work from home and always have. We believed from day one it made the most sense to have people work from their homes, on their own hours, directing their phones and emails to where they are most comfortable and productive. This issue has been, and will continue to be, a significant challenge for our company, but we’re all safe and sound and available for you. The current conditions haven’t affected our processes, except in one way: all of us are crushed to have to cancel long standing and long planned trips for our clients… having to talk to people whose honeymoons were cancelled, or family reunions postponed, or spring break getaways lost. And we completely understand.
In this moment of great change and anxiety, remember to take time out for the important people in your lives. Call your parents, your kids, your friends, your extended family – say hello, make sure they’re all okay. And please support small businesses, the lifeblood of the American economy. Order takeout from a local mom and pop pizza place. Pick up necessities from a neighborhood shop, or a bottle of wine from your corner liquor store. Tip your delivery drivers if you have the means. And for Pete’s sake, buy reasonable amounts of toilet paper!
Stay home, stay safe. When we do come of out of this – and make no mistake, we will come out of this – we will be here for you when the sun is calling your name again.
All the best,
Steve & Tracy Umstead
Founders, Berwick Travel