Wedding Travel & COVID-19: An Interview with an Expert
Weddings are always associated with travel. It could be that some guests arrive from out of state or overseas. Or, in the case of Destination Weddings, everyone, including the couple, travels to the location. The current pandemic stopped all non-essential travel globally, causing a lot of stress on the travel industry and travelers.
Linda Mitchell is a Luxury Destination Travel Professional specializing in Luxury Destination Wedding Travel and Honeymoons. We asked her to give us an in-depth look at the current situation and the future of wedding-related travel.
With COVID-19 shutting down the travel industry, what is your role in assisting your clients?
The effects on Global Tourism have been more impactful than when we witnessed the travel shutdown from 9/11. Like then, I now maintain my Travel Professional role, but add consultant, guide, educator, even personal counselor. There has also been the need and ethical desire to be a “Watch Dog” having to “fight” for the rights of my clients to get refunds in the case of forced cancellations and also to remain supportive of my vendors and suppliers. When we are affected globally in the travel industry, the travel professional assumes many roles. Our professional training experiences kick into high gear! Travelers have had to change, postpone and cancel, while in a state of fear, panic, and confusion. My job is to help them get their travel plans settled as best as I can within the industry protocol. I continue to be available to anyone who needs guidance on future travel plans. It is and will be a confusing time for all.
What precautions should be taken by future travelers?
As we move into the “New Normal” of travel, we will be guided into the new rules, similarly to when travel began again after 9/11. I reiterate this analogy because we will see new protocols in place that will hassle us, that will challenge us, that will delay the ease of travel and that we will balk at. But these measures are all imperative to get us traveling safely again; safety is freedom, and freedom is being safe from illness. As we venture into the future, we must be diligent in respecting our space and the space of others. We must be respectful of the environment in which we co-exist. We must travel with care regarding where we go and how we stay safe, following the new guidelines set forth for us. But above all, we must travel. Our lives depend on it; we crave the knowledge, connection, and experiences only travel can provide.
What are the implications for the travel industry ahead? Future of travel?
We have ventured into the unknown right now with what future travel will be in the travel industry. The industry, like all other areas of commerce, has taken a big hit. To think that travel will be cheap because the industry needs the business is not realistic. To put safety measures into place will take time, money and planning. When the world “opens for business” again, we will wait and see what the “New Normal” will bring. Following a TTA [Trusted Travel Advisor] will give you the best guidance.
What to do if a couple has to cancel/postpone their destination wedding?
I have a personal involvement in this as well as professional. My future daughter in law and son postponed their wedding on Oahu HI from August 09, 2020, to June 26, 2021. A Travel Professional that specializes in Destination Wedding Travel will know what to do to move room blocks, handle agreements and room rates, and readjust reservations. It is vital to reassure the guests that their previously made travel arrangements will be professionally adjusted for them, so the guests are not worrying and wondering. It is important that the wedding couple can rely on the travel specialist to sort out these new arrangements, as they have so many other things to think about.
Are there ways to address the travel anxiety of the wedding guests?
Ask them to be patient and let time tell when and how travel will recommence. Assure them that they will not be asked to do anything they are not comfortable with, and that plans for the destination wedding will continue only if and when it is safe to travel. Keep them up to date on any cancellation dates, penalties, and terms with their
booked trip. Encourage the wedding couples to reach out to a Trusted Travel Professional. Be supportive to guests that may decide not to travel, changing their original plans. Couples will get creative along with their professional wedding planners to offer alternative ways for guests to enjoy the wedding virtually.
It is better not to cancel tickets right away, but to wait and see if the airlines cancel the flight. If the airline cancels the flights, guests will be entitled to a refund. If the passenger cancels the flight, then they will only receive an E-Credit for future travel. Keep in mind that airlines are not canceling flights far into the future, only those within a 72-hour window! Airlines are changing their terms week to week. In 2021, most airlines will no longer charge customers to change their tickets to give the traveler a bit more confidence in making future flight reservations.
Do you have any advice for those who are just starting to plan their destination weddings for 2021?
Couples that are looking to plan destination weddings for 2021 should certainly continue to pursue the plans. We will come out of this and travel again! However, utilizing the services of a Trusted Travel Professional is so much more important now that it ever has been. Travel Professionals know how to navigate through all of the uncertainty. They work with hotels, airlines, and other travel providers to ensure that guests receive travel assistance, advice, and guidance.
This global disaster has made it quite evident that canceling travel can be a major issue for travelers who booked trips on their own or via a website, without any personal assistance. Airlines direct travelers back to the sites where they purchased their tickets, instead of helping them themselves. Many have seen disastrous results in trying to cancel vacations. Just as a wedding couple would bring on a wedding professional to plan their wedding, so should they also enlist a travel professional as part of their wedding planning team.
What does a Destination Wedding Travel Professional do, and why do I need one?
The travel elements of destination weddings are a huge part of the planning process! By including a Destination Wedding Travel Specialist on your planning team, you can then focus on the wedding-related events! Your travel arrangements, as well as your guest’s travel arrangements, will be uncomplicated as a result of the elite VIP luxury level services of Luxury Destination Travel! Each guest will receive an invaluable level of VIP service with attention to each and every detail to make his or her travel to your wedding an idyllic experience! Guests will arrive with incredible excitement and ease, having enjoyed a perfectly prepared travel experience beyond all expectations.
Luxury Destination Travel coordinates seamlessly with your destination-wedding planner to ensure the highest level of service. LTD is proud and honored to work with a team of passionate professionals and provide consistency in the quality of service!
The services and consulting of Luxury Destination Travel, ensuring well-organized destination wedding travel experiences, will be available throughout the planning time leading up to your wedding. You will remain peaceful as Luxury Destination Travel coordinates everything; you are free to focus on the elements of creating your special day. Get in touch now!
Our world will reconnect border by border, culture to culture, mile by mile. Our lives will be stronger for the time we have put aside to make our way through this global occurrence. Celebrations will still happen, people will come together - the world will travel again!
Photo credits: Rebecca Davidson Photography, Victoria Angela Photography, Anna Fowler Photography, Gianni Di Natale Photographers, Primavera Dreams.