Last Updated on February 22, 2021 by tripcentral
What’s happened to my agent?
COVID-19 has ground bookings in the travel industry to a near halt. As such, our revenue stream to support the number of agents we have working has also diminished.
We have a crew of full-time agents working from home through our centralized phone system. The menu items on our phone system have changed to help us better identify and manage changes to existing bookings from new enquiries.
You can see which agents are working by visiting our agent listing.
The majority of our agents are on furlough, awaiting a return to business. This has lasted much longer than we expected. When we first sent our agents to work from home on March 16, we expected to be back after 14 or so days of quarantine. This was a crazy time when we were managing the mass cancellations and communicating with our customers in destination to return home.
Our agents worked long hours servicing our customers as best as they could given the jammed phone lines of our suppliers. But ultimately, we ran out of work for all but a group of agents dealing with the aftermath of credits, re-booking, and the occasional new enquiry.
Many of our agents have continued monitoring their email while on furlough. Some answered questions and others ensured that someone working was able to contact their customers for service.
What will happen when demand for travel resumes?
Maintaining the relationship between our agents and our customers is our highest priority. Many of our customers understand sticking with a good travel agent pays off in the long run. We learn your likes, dislikes. We learn from your successful trips and even the unsuccessful ones.
People who move from company to company, agent to agent, or book directly with airlines and hotels are missing out on someone with a holistic view. The extra service our agents provide is a benefit that you do not get by booking directly or hopping from one to another.
While many of our agents are at home waiting for demand to return, we are maintaining the association of our customers to them. Some will return as demand increases, and some may do this part-time or for select past customers only.
We will be adding the ability to book an appointment with a specific agent for a telephone or video call. Agents will be able to show “office hours” for windows of time they will be available to take calls. In addition to having the tools and systems in a home environment, we’re working on making sure our agents are alerted when new communications come in for appropriate response time.
Some of our agents will return to full-time status, and others may continue as part-time.
Why haven’t I heard from tripcentral.ca or my agent?
To be honest, we’ve been busy sorting out the mess of 10,000 cancellations, travel credits, re-bookings, and insurance claims. There is very little demand for our services, and we find it inappropriate to be “pitching” deals or promoting any travel purchases at this time.
In the early stages after the chaotic cancellations, our agents were checking their emails daily and responding to customers. As things quieted down, the check-in by email is less frequent. Some are taking the summer off, and others have found part-time or temporary work.
It was necessary to consolidate all communications about future travel credits and insurance claims so we could monitor the progress and follow up. It would have been arduous if customer responses were trapped in agent email boxes. The cancellation clean up required our management team to take on specific suppliers in order to manage communications, stay up to date on policy changes, and to check and re-check that credits, insurance claims, and refunds were being handled correctly by our suppliers.
We have started communications aimed at informing you of changing government regulations for Canadians, your province, destination countries, states and even cities. Our goal is to keep you apprised of what you need to know so that when you’re ready to travel, you can make informed decisions. We featured the measures our suppliers are taking to improve the safety of the experience. You will see Health & Safety measures called out on our website for hoteliers, airlines, airports and so on to help you make an informed decision when you’re ready to travel again.
Thank you for taking interest in your agent. We hope to maintain your trust and help with your future travel plans.
Please take a moment to read our related article on the closing of our storefront locations.