Israel: What do I do as a Luxury Travel Agency Owner for my clients.
First let me say my heart goes out to all the innocent lives lost on both sides of the conflict. I'm deeply saddend and concerned for all those who are experiencing the impact of this horrific crisis firsthand or through their loved ones and family. Travel is truly a force for good, it open our mind & eyes, when we explore and experience other cultures, and it encourages us to keep learning about the world around us, and drives that incredible bond of human connection with others.
When war breaks out in a country where one or more of my clients is planning on traveling to.
I have to know your options as your luxury travel advisor, as quickly as possible.
Safety First: The safety of my clients is of paramount. I stay informed about the situation by following updates from official government sources, such as the embassy or consulate, as well as from major international news agencies. I inform my clients about the situation and recommend immediate actions, which might include postponing or canceling travel plans or evacuating if they are already in the country.
Travel Restrictions & Advisories: Countries often issue travel advisories or restrictions during times of war or heightened tensions. I become immediately up to date and familiar with any advisories issued by the home country of the traveler and the destination country. Clients should always register with the state department if they feel they are traveling to a potentially at risk area of any danger.
Airline Cancellations & Exceptions: I check with airlines and other transportation vendors & providers about possible disruptions or cancellations of services. I will keep updated and check your airline’s exception policies: examples include: Delta, United Airlines among many others
REMINDER: Allow the airline to cancel your flight first!
Most airlines will not fly to a war zone, so I will watch a clients flights and let the carrier cancel so your refunds are easier to navigate and you can actually get a refund. Otherwise there may be other rules of carriers may apply such as vouchers or rebooking options at no cost to client.
Insurance Implications: Many travel insurance policies do not cover incidents related to war, civil unrest, or terrorism, while others do. I always advise my clients to thoroughly review their insurance policies to understand all coverage limitations. Many clients do not consider or want to take out higher priced "Cancel For Any Reason" (CFAR) insurance policies, and take out standard plans, but if clients are concerned about potential changes/cancellation in their travel plans and want absolute protection, at least partially, CFAR is the way to go. Fortunately the 3rd party preferred insurance policy I sell has War/Terrorism coverages, but clients must read the coverages for its inclusions and exclusions.
Stay Updated with Local Contacts: just like anywhere else in the work I have my local connections and go to's, and can establish quick contact with my local partners, such as hoteliers, tour operators, and ground transportation providers in Israel, to get real-time updates and ensure that my client travelers are safe and have access to necessary resources.
I had a small group set to leave for a tour of Israel in the coming days, and of course this tour was cancelled. Fortunately for my clients all of them except one had travel insurance with terrorism protection included, and immediately my insurance rep on Monday emailed me an update letting me know, they declared the action in Israel as terror related. My clients were all set to travel on El Al, and El Al is not cancelling flights, only accepting rebooking and future e-voucher assigment. My clients who have insurance are all able to avoid this requirement and instead file a claim for the cost of the air. The tour operator, in this case Collette, is honoring 100% refund, so all my clients are getting refunds for their tour. Collette did offer my clients reprotection of same tour anytime in 2024 at no cost, or any tour anywhere in the world with Collette. While it would've been nice to retain that business with Collette for them for the future, all my clients are opting for the refund.
I'm also a contractor for an air agency in the area that is heavily specialized in air to Israel, and have been told by that agency owner, they have seen 100+ air cancellations in just days. They must be going crazy with those cancellations. Fortunately for my agency that is not the case. I dealt immediately and professionally for the upcoming clients I had involved with the destination, and can now proceed beyond to continued client growth.
It's been along time since I wrote, and I have many interesting postings to share with you all. I've just been really busy with clientele through the peak summer season and had no time to address the blog since mid-summer! While those posts will have to wait for a better time, I wanted immediately to address you on travel matters of Israel while it was fresh in my mind and while I've been handling clients concerning travel to Israel.
from the desk of: Derek Schemonitz, Agency Owner