The impact of COVID-19 on travel is deepening in the US … Royal Caribbean is extending its “Cruise with Confidence” policy through Sept. 1 … Norwegian Cruise Line is extending the suspension of its sailings to May 10 … Viking offers an update on its operations … Trafalgar offers an update on its policies … Insight does too … and Vail Resorts’ CEO is donating $2.5 million to the companies employees and the mountain villages with it has its resorts … so read on …
Longwoods International tracks the trends
According to research from Longwoods International, the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on US travel continues to deepen.
In the company’s tracking study of American travellers and the coronavirus pandemic, 84% of them are changing their travel plans for the next six months because of coronavirus, up from 58% two weeks ago and 75% last week.
The research highlights the growing disruption to the $1 trillion US travel industry — https://www.ustravel.org/answersheet .
When asked how they would change their plans because of the pandemic, 50% said they would cancel some trips, and 35% said they will reduce travel in the next six months. Changing trips from international to domestic and switching from air travel to auto travel continue to occur but were less frequent than the two weeks prior.
The percentage of American travellers planning trips in the next six months continues to decline, from 87% two weeks ago to 72% at the time of this survey. However, that number remains strong, suggesting that almost three quarters of US travelers still want to travel (if possible) in the next 6 months. This indicates that there will be a strong, pent up demand for travel when the pandemic is under control.
The coronavirus pandemic continues to be a more significant factor affecting U.S. travel in the next six months, compared with concerns about the economy and transportation costs.
Of the travellers surveyed, 62% of them indicated that the coronavirus pandemic would “greatly impact” their decision to travel in the next six months, up from 35% two weeks ago.
While consumers looking for future travel deals remains popular information with 51% of travellers, other top interest categories include information on local take-out and food delivery (41%) and ways to help local businesses and their employees during the pandemic (40%).
Royal Caribbean Extends Policy Through Sept. 1
Royal Caribbean Group is extending its “Cruise with Confidence” cancellation policy through Sept. 1, 2020 in order to address expanding global travel restrictions and provide peace of mind in guest travel planning.
The updated policy enhances planning flexibility by allowing cancellations up to 48 hours prior to sailing for any reason. Guests will receive a full credit for their fare, usable on any future sailing of choice in 2020 or 2021.
Company chairman and CEO, Richard Fain said: “Guests are reacting positively to our ‘Cruise with Confidence’ policy because it enables them to make informed decisions and to better manage complicated travel plans during this unprecedented time of uncertainty.”
The extension applies to both new and existing cruise bookings. In addition to easing concerns of booked guests, Fain says the policy enhances consumer confidence to schedule new bookings, knowing last-minute travel adjustments will incur no penalty.
Said Fain: “We want our guests to feel they can safely keep their existing cruise bookings or schedule new sailings because this policy gives them more freedom and flexibility.”
The policy applies to all cruises with sailing dates on or before Sept. 1, 2020, and applies to the company’s global brands Royal Caribbean International, Celebrity Cruises and Azamara.
For individual brand policy details and for information on the Silversea policy, please visit the respective brand websites:
- Azamara: www.azamara.com/cruise-with-confidence
- Celebrity: www.celebritycruises.com/cruise-with-confidence
- Royal Caribbean: www.loyaltoyoualways.com/service/cruisewithconfidence1/
- Silversea: www.silversea.com/temporary-amendment-to-cancellation-policy.html.
Norwegian Cruise Line Extends Suspension Of Voyages
Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd is extending its previously announced voluntary suspension of all cruise voyages to include voyages embarking between April 12 and May 10, 2020 for its three cruise brands.
The extended suspension contributes to the global efforts to contain the spread of COVID-19, which has also resulted in travel restrictions and continued uncertainty regarding worldwide port closures and availability.
Frank Del Rio, president and chief executive officer of Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd., explained that: “With COVID-19 continuing to have a significant impact on communities throughout the world, we are extending our temporary suspension of cruise voyages across our three brands through May 10th.”
Del Rio continued: “While we understand this disruption may inconvenience our loyal guests and valued travel partners, we are committed first and foremost to protecting the safety, security and well-being of our guests, crew, and the communities we visit. We appreciate their continued understanding as we navigate through these unprecedented times and do our part to help global efforts to contain this pandemic.”
Guests who are currently booked on voyages with embarkation dates between March 13 and May 10, 2020 on Norwegian Cruise Line, Oceania Cruises or Regent Seven Seas Cruises are asked to contact their travel agent or the cruise line for more information.
Viking extends suspension of operations
Viking has announced it is extending the suspension of its cruise operations through June 30, 2020 as part of its commitment to the safety and well being of its guests and employees.
In a letter to its customers, Viking chairman Torstein Hagen writes:
“I am writing to you today from my home, rather than the Viking office. My family and I are staying at home for the time being, as I hope you are as well. It is an adjustment for all of us and particularly for someone like me, who spends most of his time traveling. But we are truly living in an unprecedented time.”
“Since we started Viking nearly 23 years ago, we have always cared first and foremost about our guests and our employees. I feel we have become one large Viking family of 500,000 guests each year and 10,000 employees. Since day one, it has been our mission to create experiences for our guests that focus on the destination and allow them to explore the world in comfort. This has always been Viking’s ambition and will remain so.”
“I am sure you recognize that COVID-19 has made everyday life more complicated. On March 11, we were the first cruise line to announce a temporary suspension of operations through April 30, 2020. In the time since that announcement, many of you have expressed concern for our crew, and I want to reassure you that we are taking good care of them.”
“We are using this period of non-operation as a time for additional training and initiatives to ensure we have the safest and healthiest fleet in the industry. As a private company we do not have to worry about quarterly profit expectations – and that flexibility allows us the ability to do what is best for our guests and our employees.”
In that spirit, we have made the decision to extend our temporary suspension of operations through June 30, 2020.
“As a guest whose cruise falls within this window of suspended operations, we are offering a Future Cruise Voucher valued at 125% of all monies paid to Viking. By adding 25% to the value of what you originally paid, you now have the opportunity to enhance your trip – such as choosing a longer itinerary; adding a Pre/Post cruise extension; upgrading your stateroom category; or even upgrading to business class air.”
“You will have 24 months to use your Future Cruise Voucher to make a new reservation on any river, ocean or expedition cruise. For additional flexibility, if you are unable to use your voucher, we will automatically send you a refund equal to the original amount paid to Viking after the voucher expires. These 125% Future Cruise Vouchers will also be fully transferable.”
“Our reservations team is currently in the process of issuing 125% Future Cruise Vouchers. However, if you prefer the alternative, you may choose a refund equal to the amount paid, by calling Viking at 1-833-900-0951 or your Travel Agent by April 6, 2020.”
“We will continue to stand by you, as well as our employees and partners, and hope that you will continue to stand by us.”
Trafalgar Updates Its Policies
Trafalgar has offered an update on its policies during the current COVID-19 crisis. In a post on its website — https://www.trafalgar.com/en-ca/resources/coronavirus-travel-update — the operator writes:
“Our hearts and thoughts go out to all who have been impacted by this unprecedented, ongoing global crisis and we want you to know that the wellbeing of our guests and our teams has always been – and will always be – our first priority.”
“Due to new government mandates, our physical offices are now unfortunately closed and our teams are working from home. We remain committed to supporting you, but this change has further negatively impacted our already stretched service levels.”
“If you have a booking with us, have peace of mind, knowing your trip can be postponed and rebooked without any penalty, with these below options available to you.”
For all trips departing before or on June 30, 2020
“In accordance with travel restrictions imposed by government advisories worldwide, Trafalgar has temporarily suspended all guided holidays across the globe for trips departing up and until 30 June 2020.”
“If you have a booked trip during this suspension period, please rest assured that you have a travel credit automatically available to you for the full value of the land portion of your trip, to use for travel before Dec, 31, 2022.”
You are eligible to either:
· Rebook now and change your travel dates or destination to any trip in 2020 or 2021, without penalty on the land portion of your trip. Any discounts (of up to 15%) that had been applied to your original booking will be transferred and applied to your new booking.*
· Elect to hold a Future Travel Credit of the full amount paid for land portion of the suspended trip, redeemable against any new booking for travel to any destination departing before Dec. 31, 2022.**
Future Travel Credits can be redeemed with Trafalgar or another TTC brand (Insight Vacations, Luxury Gold, Brendan Vacations, Costsaver, Uniworld or U by Uniworld) on any destination or trip for travel before Dec. 31, 2022.
Please note: These policies are subject to change at any time and are not retroactive for bookings cancelled prior to March 16, 2020.
For all suspended trips that include tickets to the 2020 Oberammergau Passion Play go to https://www.trafalgar.com/en-ca/resources/oberammergau-travel-update/ for details on the postponement and your rebooking options.
For all other 2020 bookings
If you have an existing booking on a non-suspended trip departing more than 30 days from today, we are temporarily offering a change fee waiver, meaning that no fee will be charged for you to change your booking, on the land portion of the trip until 30 days prior to departure. Airlines may have different policies and penalty charges, any and all of which are your responsibility*.
- The temporary change fee waiver only applies to the land portion of all trips and does not apply to group bookings. If you choose a trip or departure that is more expensive than the original, you are responsible for the difference in price; if the trip or departure is less expensive than the original, a Future Travel Credit will be issued for the difference. Please note however, you are responsible for any airline penalties imposed due to trip changes and/or cancellations.
- ** If you select this option, the new invoice will serve as the Future Travel Credit confirmation. The Future Travel Credit amount will stay assigned to the original booking number. To redeem the Future Travel Credit, just give us the booking reference number when calling to make the new reservation departing at any time before Dec. 31, 2022. A Future Travel Credit will be issued in the value of the amount paid for the land portion of the trip and is not redeemable for cash. If the new trip or departure is more expensive than the original, you will be responsible for the difference in price; if the new trip or departure is less expensive than the original, a Future Travel Credit will be issued for the difference. Please note that you are responsible for any airline penalties imposed due to trip changes and/or cancellations. This offer may be withdrawn at any time and other restrictions may apply.
All offers are valid until further notice and may be withdrawn at any time without notice. Policies are subject to change at any time.
And Insight Vacations offers a policy update
Insight is offering an update on its policies, for all trips departing before or on June 30, 2020, explaining that:
In accordance with travel restrictions imposed by government advisories worldwide, Insight Vacations has temporarily suspended all guided vacations across the globe for trips departing up and until 30 June 2020.
If you have a booked trip during this suspension period, please rest assured that you have a travel credit automatically available to you for the full value of the land portion of your trip, to use for travel before 31 December 2022.
You are eligible to either:
- * Rebook now and change your travel dates or destination to any trip in 2020 or 2021, without penalty on the land portion of your trip. Any discounts (of up to 15%) that had been applied to your original booking will be transferred and applied to your new booking.*
- * Elect to hold a Future Travel Credit of the full amount paid for land portion of the suspended vacation, redeemable against any new booking for travel to any destination departing before 31 December 2022.**
Future Travel Credits can be redeemed with Insight Vacations or another TTC brand (Luxury Gold, Trafalgar, Costsaver, Uniworld Boutique River Cruises or U by Uniworld River Cruises) on any destination or trip for travel before 31 December 2022.
Please note: These policies are subject to change at any time and are not retroactive for bookings cancelled prior to 16 March 2020.
For all suspended trips that include tickets to the 2020 Oberammergau Passion Play, go to https://www.insightvacations.com/asia/information/oberammergau-update for details of the postponement and rebooking options.
For all other 2020 bookings, customers have the flexibility to change your trip until 30 days prior to departure.
For those with an existing booking on a non-suspended trip, departing more than 30 days from today, you have the flexibility to change the land portion of your trip to a new destination or date, free of charge until 30 days prior to departure. Airlines may have different policies and penalty charges, any and all of which are your responsibility*.
For all other queries, go to https://www.insightvacations.com/asia/information/contact-us
Vail Boss Supporting Employees, Mountain Communities
Vail Resorts’ CEO, Rob Katz and his wife, Elana Amsterdam are donating over $2.5 million to provide immediate support for both Vail Resorts employees and the mountain towns where the company operates its resorts.
Katz will donate $1.5 million in immediate emergency relief grants that will benefit more than a dozen local organizations providing critical services in Eagle, Summit and Gunnison counties in Colo.; Park City, Utah; Lake Tahoe, Calif.; Whistler, B.C.; Vermont; Stevens Pass, Wash.; and Jackson Hole, Wyo. (home of Grand Teton Lodge Company).
An additional $1 million is being donated by Katz to create a new fund within Vail Resorts’ EpicPromise Employee Foundation, which helps the company’s employees respond to unpredictable setbacks, including medical events.
This fund will help meet the increased need for assistance due to the impacts of COVID-19, ensuring that the Foundation has the resources to address this challenge.
Said Katz: “I cannot recall another moment in my lifetime that has caused so much disruption to our lives – to our work, to our health and to our communities. Throughout this incredibly challenging time, two of our absolute priorities have been, and will continue to be, the health and wellbeing of our employees and mountain communities.”
He observed that: “What makes our resorts so special is where they’re located and the passionate people who live there. As we navigate this situation, it’s essential we continue to support our employees and the vitality of our communities, providing partnership when it’s needed most.”
The donation will be distributed through the Katz Amsterdam Charitable Trust, which was established to support mountain communities, with an initial focus on eliminating the stigma of mental illness and increasing access to mental and behavioral healthcare.
Since 2016, the Trust has donated over $10 million total, including nearly $6.5 million in mental and behavioral health grants, to communities where Vail Resorts operates.
Recipients of the Katz Amsterdam Charitable Trust COVID-19 Emergency Relief Grants include:
Whistler, British Columbia
• Whistler Community Services Society: $100,000 CAD to support the organization’s mobile food bank, mental health services and social service outreach efforts
• The Whistler Blackcomb Foundation: $100,000 CAD to the Foundation’s COVID relief fund that will support non-profits across the Sea-to-Sky corridor as they meet the most critical needs of community members
State of Colorado
• Help Colorado Now: $250,000 to support non-profits across Colorado that are providing critical services during this public health crisis
Eagle County, Colorado
• Eagle Valley Community Foundation: $200,000 to support basic needs and mobile food bank services that help community members across the county
Summit County, Colorado
• Family Intercultural Resource Center: $100,000 to support the organization’s mobile food bank and mental health and social service navigation
• The Summit Foundation: $100,000 to the Summit County Cares Fund to support non-profits serving the most vulnerable populations and providing critical resources to community members
Crested Butte, Colorado
• Community Foundation of Gunnison Valley: $50,000 to the Foundation’s COVID-19 Response and Recovery Efforts that supports non-profits who provide critical services to those impacted
Summit County, Utah
• Park City Community Foundation: $200,000 to support the Community Response Fund that will deploy resources to health and human services community organizations that serve vulnerable populations disproportionately affected by the COVID-19 outbreak
South Lake Tahoe, California
• The El Dorado Community Foundation: $150,000 to the Foundation’s Coronavirus Relief Fund that will support families in need and non-profits that provide critical basic need and other social services to the community
North Lake Tahoe/Truckee, California
• Tahoe Truckee Community Foundation: $100,000 to the Foundation’s COVID-19 Emergency Response Fund that supports non-profits across the region to serve the critical needs of those impacted by the coronavirus.
• Vermont Community Foundation: $150,000 to support several non-profits in three communities that provide food services, basic needs and critical social services to community members
Stevens Pass, Washington
• Upper Valley Mend: $50,000 to support the organization’s food bank program and other critical social services to those in need
Jackson, Wyoming (Grand Teton Lodge Company)
• Community Foundation of Jackson Hole: $50,000 to the Community Emergency Response Fund to support local non-profits helping those directly impacted by COVID-19.
All Vail Resorts Communities
• Epic Promise Employee Foundation: $1 million to establish a new fund to provide additional assistance to Vail Resorts employees due to the impacts of COVID-19.
Go to www.vailresorts.com for more.