by Mark Chaskiel
February 2020 seems like so long ago. This was when we as travel agents began to feel the first effects of Covid-19. We know there are many reasons why, but even in February we would not have predicted the extent of this pandemic.
I honestly feel that even looking back, whatever moves we made at the time were right. We all know the history, and how it’s impacted our lives personally, our health, our finances, how it has affected our businesses, the elderly and the challenges of home schooling our kids.
I’ve owned a travel agency for close enough to 42 years and until three months ago I would have convinced anybody and everybody that I’ve just about seen it all. Stock market crashes, war, terrorism, and even a variety of force majeure. Looking at every other event that has impacted the travel industry, I must be the first to acknowledge that we have always rebounded incredibly fast and in some cases not even felt the impact of the event on our business.
So what’s the difference this time?
I’m guessing upwards of 90% of my daily conversations both professionally and personally would have involved talking about travel – corporate travel, cruise, fly, drive, tour, adventure, resort, city, culture, activity based etc etc. Where to, when to, how to….?
Since February, we have tried to understand how to communicate travel so that it makes sense in this current climate. This is also challenging because of the fluidity of what is happening.
Some weeks ago we started putting marketing strategies into place – chatter about travel within Australia and potentially a Pacific bubble.
As I write this, we in Victoria will not be able to travel to Queensland in July, and this week in New South Wales, it was suggested that we do not travel from Victoria. I want to believe this is another blip, and I do know that whilst green shoots have started sprouting we have a long way to go.
I also honestly believe that at FBI Travel our resilience, and your support and commitment to us will help us, and we will come up with the best possible travel outcomes when the time is right.
For those of you who know me, I am an avid traveller. Six months ago I could have chosen to travel literally anywhere in the world. In fact, our plan was to visit our granddaughter for her first birthday in London and explore parts of the UK. Maybe even a sneaky trip to Portugal, followed by a resort-type holiday somewhere on the way back to Australia. That is obviously no longer an option.
My own expectations of travel have changed significantly over the past few months.
In my days as a Travel Advisor, if I was meeting a new client, I would generally ask “where have you previously travelled to?”, “Why did you choose to go there?”, “What was it that you liked about that holiday?”, ”What was missing and were there any extras that you would have been looking for and missed out on?”. This always gave me a better understanding of what would work. I viewed being travel advisor as a cross between a match maker and an architect.
I’m now looking at the entire market as being a new client again and together we are literally starting from the very beginning.
I asked myself the logical questions. Where haven’t I been? And why not?
My next stop was engaging some of our FBI advisors for some inspirations. I know that for the past four months they have been crediting, refunding, cancelling, rebooking and generally working tirelessly to get through the web of untangling so many bookings. On the bright side there have been some great training sessions and some selfless volunteer work for local charities. I’m so proud of team FBI, their care, respect, and support of their colleagues has indeed been humbling.
My team are ready for your travel challenges, a couples weekend, family or multi-generational holiday, adventure, sport, culture. Yes, its all achievable!.
So what does a realistic personal trip look like for my wife and I?
A weekend or midweek break….
I don’t believe we can go past what is in our own backyard for a quick break. I know Jackalope on our own Mornington Peninsula is the go and yes I’m assured we can add value to your stay there.
And what’s wrong with a staycation? Ever considered a night or 2 at Crown Towers or maybe Park Hyatt and yes we can add some more value!
New Zealand has always intrigued me. I think it’s the diversity, their culture, the proximity and natural beauty that appeals most to me.
I’ve always wanted to do a driving holiday of both the north and south islands. So here are two sample itineraries I am mulling over:
North Island – Auckland, Bay of Islands, Rotorua, Taupo, Hawke’s Bay, Palliser Bay and Wellington.
South Island – Marlborough, Nelson, Kaikoura, Christchurch, Lake Tekapo, Wanaka and Queenstown
I know that New Zealand provides true five-star International services that I am accustomed to.
I am embarrassed to admit that I’ve never been to the Northern Territory. But the idea of travelling to Kakadu, Kings Canyon, Uluru and Litchfield is just so tempting. Ideally I would like to do a combination of self drive and escorted travel.
Two sample itineraries I am considering are:
• Darwin, Litchfield, Tiwi Islands, Berry Springs Nature Park
• Alice Springs and the surrounding areas. They offer such exciting experiences such as hot air ballooning, camping, glamping, mountain bike riding, indigenous culture, and so many other activities.
I think the most likely trip for me to do at the next opportunity will be WA. Whilst WA is so large, I know I need to be realistic with what is achievable.
A 14 day driving holiday through Perth, Jurien Bay, Geraldton, Kalbarri, Shark Bay, Monkey Mia, Carnarvon, Exmouth, Ningaloo Reef, Karijini National Park, Port Hedland, 80 Mile Beach, Broome (which also presents a great opportunity to discover the Kimberley’s).
I really thought I would need to lower my high expectations of travel. But it turns out I don’t!
Do I view these trips as compromise? Absolutely not!
I view them totally as an opportunity. An opportunity to experience my own backyard.
I look forward to sharing my Australian and New Zealand experiences and adventures with you, and I look forward to seeing what adventures you choose. We are so looking forward to seeing and experiencing what is in our own backyard.
My team are ready for your travel challenges, a couples weekend, family or multi-generational holiday, adventure, sport, culture. Yes, its all achievable!
Wherever you go, go well.
If you are looking to travel within Australia (and New Zealand) let FBI Travel help you get there. From flights to accommodation, tour itineraries and local recommendations, we’ll provide everything you need for a Aussie holiday to remember.