Hello clients & readers, first my official personal advisor statement to you all. Then my personal update.
Dear Active & Future Clients,
I hope this email finds you in good health and that while daily life is different, you are safe and coping.
I wanted to personally touch base to address my new temporary work schedule at Avenue Two Travel. As I’m sure you are aware, the current Covid Crisis has rattled many industries, particularly the travel industry. Although I must limit my working hours for now, I am pleased to say that my role as your advisor will not change.
With my temporary schedule [As of April 1st], I will check emails and answer calls between the hours of: (9am-11am) Monday-Friday, with a maximum allotted of 10 hours a week.
What does this mean for you? My direct phone line will be active between these hours, maybe a little longer if need be. But shortly after 11am on weekdays, my direct line will go on DND, and all calls will go into my voicemail. While I'll see voicemails immediately, if not urgent I will likely not get back to you until the next business day. If I feel I need to respond to the voicemail right away, then I'll do my best to try and respond same day. This is a personal decision after 11am. As for emails I'll also be actively responding to emails between 9am-11am on weekdays. After 11am, I'll read emails, but again if not urgent or in need of immediate response a reply will likely not come until the next day.
I'm working diligently to reschedule client trips for the fall and into 2021, as well as potential new travel arrangements. I'm not unreachable, and those that know me know that I do everything possible to respond to clientele communications as quickly as possible.
I believe in travel and I believe in the spirit of travel. I look forward to returning to work full time once it is safe and responsible to explore the world once again.
In the interim, I remain available to discuss future travel ideas and plans or simply to reflect on the joys of your past travels.
Derek Schemonitz, Avenue Two Travel
My Personal Update:
So here we are early April, as you read above, my hours have been cut to 2 hours a day, 10 hours a week. The agency made this across the board reduction in hours/pay decision for all full time advisors effective April 1st. What this allows us advisors to do, is be able to claim partial unemployment in PA, and be included in the US CARES Act Stimulus Unemployment compensation benefits and extension. Which looks as is now to run into early 2021 if need be. But the CARES Act Unemployment bonus benefit runs out after Jul 31st, unless they extend that benefit longer.
Due to some additional revenue I have coming in from other sources, I'll be able to refrain from filing Unemployment until May 1st. For now I guess I'm ok until that bonus benefit runs out in July. After July if that hasn't been extended, or if the agency hasn't reinstated me back to my full annual salary, then I'm going to really need to look at where do I go from here in this industry. As it would be very tight financially for us on just Unemployment + my wife's salary alone come August.
Not all is so bleak though, as the agency is filing & in pursuit of the CARES Act SBA Loans/Grants program, and looking into Payroll Reinstatement Programs. So this can all change very suddenly if they are successful in getting approved with enough funding. The US government is trying to encourage companies to bring back all employees and reinstate payroll. So who knows, maybe May 1st I'm back on and don't even need to think about Unemployment (wouldn't that be ideal!)
I have a lot of connections over in Europe, and some of them have connections in politics as well. What I'm hearing from my sources overseas is that the EU has a tentative plan in place to start opening up the economy again in May, and by the end of May the EU economy is back in full swing for the summer. How does this affect foreign nationals from coming into the EU?, is my question. Will tourist be allowed to fly from overseas and travel within the EU in June/July? Will we be screened on departure/arrival or need some kind of waiver allowing us into the EU. Will the EU allow US Citizens, or being we are a little late to the pandemic club, will we be prohibited from entering the EU until a month or two later?
No traveler wants to fly to Rome, and then be required to self quarantine in the same hotel at their own expense for 2 weeks and not be allowed to travel throughout the country. Oh and of course it's not just to EU, it's Asia, the UK, South America, Africa. Where will clients be able to travel to this summer?
I've very fortunately salvaged most of my clients scheduled to travel in April/May, and have them rebooked for European trips in the fall. September/October seems to be what most clientele feel is a safe timeframe to plan and visit the EU. I have clients booked/rebooked/rebooking for travels in France, Italy, Croatia in these months. One couple rescheduling Italy for the spring of '21. Most of these are dependent on the airlines ticket exchange policies and time frames allowed, every airline is different. To encourage clients to rebook and not cancel, I've put into place a personal promise waiving personal/agency cancellation and rebooking fees [Not Vendors]. As cancellations without rescheduling are subject to potential partial revenue loss cancellation fees. My June/July clientele are still holding firm with their plans, awaiting to see what happens next.
This hasn't stopped some clientele from just cancelling. Over the last few weeks clients cancelled a river cruise in France for the summer. As well most devastating a Luxury Silversea small cruise group with about $100k+ in sales for October is slowly disintegrating into nothingness, as couple after couple are deciding to cancel. Which has really shocked me, as most of my confirmed Euro Zone bookings are rescheduling for Sept/October, yet this cruise group is falling apart for that same time. What looked to be my biggest luxury booking of the year, is now looking to be a big fat $0. I charged minor fees for the cruise/land/air and for cancellations on it, but comparing those fees to actual revenue loss on a 100k+ sailing, is almost nothing, practically a 85%+ loss in revenue per suite. With Silversea not protecting any commissions due, and even recalling commissions they paid us.
A destination wedding group that was scheduled to travel mid March to Mexico decided to cancel at the last minute (a week before Mexico closed it borders). Luckily the resort honored a complete rebooking of the entire group for new dates in the fall, with the same number of nights and rooms. So this wonderful bride & groom still get to have their beautiful destination wedding as planned in Mexico. A happy way to end this update!
I'm staying positive, watching a lot of Netflix & movies, staying home as required by law...and getting quite a bit of yard work done as well..... Taking my dogs for walks, and working my two hour mornings. With the hope that I can get back to doing what I do best full time as soon as possible! With my wife working full time from home everyday, I've become the household husband, lol!
To all my clients & readers, be safe, be in good health, stay home!
Take care, and keep you all updated again soon!
Avenue Two Travel
Luxury Travel Advisor