It’s no secret that Covid-19 has flipped our world upside down and shaken it up. Some businesses are scrambling to allow their employees to work from home and some are closing up shop indefinitely. I feel for everyone out there who is struggling – probably because my side business is in an industry that has kind of tanked during this time – Travel.
No one is traveling, no one is thinking about or planning travel, and none of us know when exactly it’ll be safe for us to travel again.
I wanted to put this together to explain exactly what’s going on in the travel industry today, directly from someone who is in the middle of it all.
1. Small Businesses are Banding Together
I’ve never seen a more united front from small businesses online. This goes for any industry, but I’ll focus on travel in particular. I’ve seen so many travel planners, travel influencers, and travel agents on Instagram helping each other out by sharing posts or simply telling their followers why this OTHER travel planner is so great.
We are coming together like never before and while this whole situation is undoubtedly chaotic, it’s kind of beautiful to see someone brag about this person and their business when a month ago, they were in competition for clients.
I think everyone understands that EVERYONE is hurting and struggling and scared which is helping us empathize like we never have before.
2. Entrepeneurs are a Bit Conflicted
We don’t know what to do. We don’t know if we should continue with our scheduled content, or change the narrative and only talk about Covid-19.
I’ve talked to several people who run online businesses over the past few days and everyone asks the same question:
Do you think It’s okay if I still market my business, or is that insensitive?
My personal opinion is to keep on advertising, but address the elephant in the room. We can all tell when someone is being sleezy online and using this time as an opportunity to exploit fears and sell their products – just don’t do that!
If you run an online business, this is an excellent time to connect with your audience, empathize with them, build trust, and show some compassion, but you still gotta make some money!
And if you don’t run an online business, understand that most people marketing their services online are trying to help. They understand that a lot of people have more downtime than they ever have before, so they might release more content or an online course to help their audience out while they have the time to learn. This is how they make their living – please think about that before you criticize.
3. Major Airlines are Letting You Change/Cancel Flights for Free
United Airlines, American Airlines, Delta, and several others are all waiving cancel/change fees for travel impacted by Covid-19. This means that if you have/had travel scheduled for March or April 2020, you can change or cancel your flights for free (yes, even if you bought a non-refundable, no-change ticket).
If you happen to know when you might want to travel again, I’d go ahead and change the flight to the new date/location. It won’t reimburse you if your new flight is cheaper than your current flight, though, so I’d pick a flight that is as close in price as possible (it will charge you the balance if your new flight is more expensive, however).
If you don’t know when you want to travel again, I’d cancel your flight and you’ll receive a voucher to use the next time you want to fly.
In addition to changing/canceling flights for travel within March and April, any flight purchased during this time can be changed without a fee. The dates and stipulations all seem to vary from airline to airline, though, so make sure to check the rules that apply for your individual airline.
4. Cruise Lines are Suspending Service
The CLIA (Cruise Line International Association) has voluntarily suspended all cruise ship services for 30 days starting March 14, 2020. This was the best thing they could have done in my eyes (someone who went on a cruise JUST before shit hit the fan in the US) because God knows people would have still been going on these cruises if they had a chance to.
5. Some Hotels are Allowing Cancellations/Changes
If you booked hotels through Hotels dot com or HotelTonight, they will allow you to cancel or change your plans if your stay is before a certain date. Cancellations will receive a full refund or a voucher for a future stay and changes will not incur any fees.
However, Booking, Hotels Combined, and Airbnb are leaving it up to the individual hotels/property owners to offer flexible changes. This makes sense because these websites are aggregators of hotels and can’t actually change the cancellation policies. This means that if a hotel doesn’t want to offer free cancellations and one of these sites does, they’d have to refund the money themselves without getting reimbursed by the hotel, making them lose even more money than they are during this time.
From what I can see, larger hotel chains like Marriott and Hilton are allowing free cancellations and changes up to 24 hours before arrival. Again, make sure to check the specific dates and stipulations for your hotel chain to be sure you’re in the clear.
If you have plans you need to change…
DO IT NOW while you still can!
If you don’t know when you’re going to want to book your new flight or hotel stay for, I suggest cancelling the reservation entirely and taking your refund or voucher to use later.
Reach out to me if you have any specific questions on this topic or need more information about a specific airline/hotel chain. I’m more than happy to help anyone through this confusing time.
Stay safe and stay socially distant!