When you're ready... We will be here for you

Hello, fellow travelers. It feels odd to write that, because nobody is traveling now, and we really don’t know when we’ll be able to start again. I’m confident that day will come, but in the meantime we have to deal with the disappointment of lost vacations, delayed dreams and fears that these chances to travel again might be a long time returning.

           As we work together to straighten out the myriad and often maddening web of cancellations, vouchers and refunds, we also have to deal with the grief of seeing our travel dreams deferred to some uncertain future date. And “grief” is exactly what it is, with stages that are familiar, because we’ve all experienced grief.

Stage 1: Denial

           We had all heard that the coronavirus was causing serious problems in China, but we tended to downplay the voices who warned that it would disrupt the entire world. Hysterical doom-sayers, we thought.

           But then it happened, and as we saw flights and cruises canceled and heard news of borders being closed, our denial quickly changed. We entered the next stage.

Stage 2: Anger

           By early March, it was getting very real. Athletic events and concerts were being canceled. I was traveling with some colleagues to South Asia, leading up to our scheduled International Summit in Jaipur, India. In the foothills of the Himalayas, we explored Nepal, but our planned visit to neighboring Bhutan was called off when that nation closed its borders. Within a couple days, India closed its borders and we were advised to come home. The conference was canceled and we were told to get the first available flight out of Kathmandu and hope for the best.

           We were tired, fearful and a little angry that we’d been unable to visit Bhutan and India, and when we returned to our offices the new reality sank in very quickly, as we went to work helping our clients alter or cancel their own travel plans. We heard the pain and frustration in their voices and much the same from our travel partners—airlines, cruise lines, tour companies, hotels—as we all struggled with the situation. Very quickly, we had to move out of Stage 2 and deal with what had to be done next.

Stage 3: Bargaining

           We’ve been able to secure travel vouchers for virtually every one of our clients. These vouchers are good for future trips, as the great majority of our vendors were confident of their ability to ride out the virus and resume full operations at some point. Some of our clients requested cash refunds, perhaps because of the uncertainty of future dates being available, or the desire to have cash available now. Every day, we are working diligently to ensure that all of our clients will be able to come out of this trying period with something.

           Horror stories have been rolling in almost daily about internet-based companies, such as BookIt.com, who have closed their virtual doors and left their clients literally stranded in foreign countries, in some cases with large tabs for hotels or airline tickets that they had already paid to the travel companies months ago. In other cases, these clients are stuck on hold for hours on end, if they can even get through to someone, in their desperate attempts to get relief. I have great empathy for travelers stuck in those situations, and our office has been working extra hard to make sure our own clients are served as quickly and as professionally as possible. And as we work together with clients, we begin to move into the next stage.

Stage 4: Depression

           We began to experience the same feelings our clients were having. Will this ever end? Will our business survive? When will things get back to normal? And what kind of “normal” will that be? We avoided looking at our retirement accounts. Every night we sat in front of the TV, trying to figure out what news could be trusted, whether our leaders were doing the right thing. As more and more of our town and area moved into quarantine, with school suspended, many businesses shuttered and even our churches closed, we started thinking, if only just a little bit, that the gloom-and-doom people might just turn out to be right after all.

           It was depressing to even think about it, and for what seemed like weeks but was actually only a few days, things looked bleak indeed. But then, we moved on to the next stage.

Stage 5: Acceptance

           The new reality, even if it is only temporary, is now upon us. We can’t travel—not only on flights or cruises, but not even by car across the state to visit relatives. We now know a lot about phrases like “social distancing” and “self-quarantine.” Our leaders have called upon us to be mindful of our neighbors and other members of our community, to help them, and us, avoid infection and illness.

           But we have also seen many hopeful signs. In some countries, the rate of infection has dropped. In our own country, the massive power of American industry is kicking in to supply our medical providers with vital equipment and supplies. Our scientific community is working hard to develop drugs to treat the disease and a vaccine to prevent its spread. Government on every level is responding with coordinated, non-partisan efforts. We’ve also been able to start gaining much-needed perspective. A hundred years ago, America suffered greatly from the Spanish flu, and yet here we are, thanks to the sacrifice and determination of our great-grandparents.

           We will get through this. Working together, caring for our loved ones and our neighbors, we will survive this. The planes will fly and the ships will sail, and we will be there to help our clients realize their dreams.

(22 Reviews)
100% Recommended

Susan Tindell

Rice Lake, WI
Certified Tahiti Specialist

La ora na! (Hello!) The crystal blue waters of the South Pacific lap the white sands of the beach just steps away from your bungalow. It's another beautiful day in paradise---Tahiti. Experience the Society Islands from a sumptuous resort or aboard...
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