Did you get screwed over on your travels because of the Coronavirus pandemic?
You are not alone.
How long did it take to get through to your OTA?
What is an OTA?
An OTA is a travel website that specializes in the sale of travel products to consumers. Expedia, TripAdvisor, Kayak, Priceline, Travelocity, Costco, etc. are all examples of OTAs.
More importantly, did you get a full refund?
Complaints about “being abandoned”, “hung up on”, and “not resolved” are still being heard from US travelers.
From a Forbes online article, titled “COVID-19: Airlines And OTAs Say, ‘Don’t Call Us’ As Travel Agents Come To The Rescue“, dated March 23, 2020:
“While airlines, hotel companies, and online travel agencies (OTAs) are telling customers, “Don’t call us, we can’t handle the volume of calls,” and in some cases disconnecting callers after hours on hold, consumers who use traditional travel agents are not only getting advice. They’re getting rescued. They are getting rebooked. They’re getting home. And in some cases, they’re even getting a shoulder to lean on, and a bit of daydreaming, chatting about where they want to go after the COVID-19 Coronavirus crisis recedes.”
From a New York Times online article, title “Why Is Getting a Refund From an Online Travel Agency So Hard?“, dated April 3, 2020:
“For many travelers looking to save money, booking through a third party site like Expedia, Priceline or Orbitz has become second nature, especially for those looking for last-minute travel or package deals. Then came the coronavirus pandemic. Many people attempting to cancel trips and get refunds have learned that including a middleman when booking a trip can make things complicated.”
That’s old news, what about now?
Even today, some travelers have not yet received their refunds from travel suppliers (hotels, cruise lines, tour operators, etc.) or are unhappy with the future credits offered, the run-around, the hours wasted on the phone, the limitations and restrictions, the extra fees, or their outright refusal to reimburse any portion of the monies paid. See Boston Globe online article, titled “Despite an infusion of billions from the government, some airlines are still delaying and denying refunds“.
Travel Advisors to the Rescue!
Travel Advisors make sure you are well taken care of, even during a pandemic. We are the ones on the phones waiting for several hours to speak with travel suppliers getting your refunds, or re-booking your travel while you enjoy the beach or time with your family.
This is what we do. And what we are still doing.
It is our duty to be responsible for and responsive to our clients before, during, and after your vacation; or in this case, your cancellations and emergencies.
An article on AARP online, dated, August 15, 2020, titled “Did COVID-19 Create a Demand for Travel Agents?” goes more in-depth about how tourists said advisers helped them to get home safely and receive refunds.
Some Travel Advisors even helped to make arrangements for travelers who booked with OTAs!
Nonetheless, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) Consumer Information Division offered some suggestions in a post titled “COVID-19 ruined my travel plans. Now what?” for those who don’t know where to file a complaint.
Thankfully, I did not recommend taking the future credits option because I figured that everything regarding travel in 2020 would still be up in the air and my clients money would be held in limbo by the travel suppliers until they traveled with them again. I am happy to say that all of my clients have finally, finally, FINALLY received their full refunds and they all had CFAR (cancel for any reason) insurance. But it took many many months to resolve with weekly (sometimes daily) phone calls with suppliers to make it right.
That’s my job though.
As a Travel Advisor, I take care of YOU, first and foremost.
So… Use Me Until You Use Me Up.