A-List Travel Advisors

Travel Advisors Employ Unique Strategies to Maintain Work-Life Balance

As variants spread, traveler confidence dips and mask mandates are reinstated, vacations hang in the balance.

Travel advisors are working hard to juggle changing restrictions, testing requirements, cancellations and rescheduling while also trying to keep themselves and their clients sane.

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Host agency Travel Experts shared how some of their travel advisors are managing all of the chaos.

“We asked our advisors what they are doing to help themselves stay steady on the ‘balance beam’ during these chaotic and frustrating times so that they can be the best they can be for their clients,” said Sharon Fake, director of operations for Travel Experts. “We found that music interludes, daily massages, online games, window shopping for clothes, long conversations with other advisors and, of course, cocktails, lots of different cocktails, were some of the ways the advisors were using to keep sane.”

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Linda de Sosa of Bucketlist Travel Consulting in Houston is one agent who turns on the tunes.

“As I cancel yet another cruise for clients who were supposed to leave next week, but are afraid they will be trapped onboard, I’m sitting on hold listening to violin concertos hoping I can salvage a piece of their penalties,” said de Sosa. “At the same time, I am booking a massage for myself online. Oh, and the cruise line just came back on and said they would not convert any penalties into credit. Turn up the music.”

Holly Lombardo of Holly Lombardo Travel in Atlanta is burning the candle at both ends.

“Lately I’ve commented that I feel this summer is almost more challenging than last spring,” said Lombardo. “Clients have a million questions and it does not end until their trip departs and even then I might get a call on a Sunday morning asking me to get involved when a client has a delayed test result and is supposed to be on a plane in two hours. My stress level is off the charts.”

To relieve stress, she turns to her friends.

“First, I try and remind myself that doing my best is good enough and I put my head down and power through,” she said. “If that does not work, I usually reach out to an associate by phone or a Facebook group of agents who can completely understand what I’m feeling. And if that does not work, well when 6 p.m. rolls around I make myself a refreshing gin and tonic and let out a big exhale.”

Stacy Small of Elite Travel International in Maui found that getting away from it all was a great stress-reliever.

“I did something kind of crazy this past week,” said Small. “I did what I am always telling others to do and I took a real vacation. Well, not the exotic, bucket-list trip I might be dreaming about, but a quick trip to the mainland for a low-stress, fun, six-day getaway in the City by the Bay. And it was a reminder that we are all in need of scenery changes and a dose of new and different energy.”

Susan Kelly of Luxury Adventure Trips in Seattle has even coined a new phrase.

“If the pandemic has taught us anything it’s that nothing is certain. My clients are ready to travel and they are very world-savvy,” said Kelly. “They’re optimistic but cautious and understand that their dream trips can change due to Covid. I call it ‘Fingers Crossed Travel Planning.’ I highly advise them to purchase travel insurance. I don’t know why anyone would leave home without it.”

Clients are also stressed and many agents are helping to calm their nerves.

Pam Walker of Walker Adventures in Palm Coast, Florida, keeps in regular contact with clients through a weekly newsletter.

“What am I doing to remain sane? Well I for one am doing my best to keep my clients informed,” said Walkter. “I have been writing a ‘Happy Friday’ email since March of 2020 which I still am doing now in 2021. I try to disperse the fear and anxiety. There is so much fear out there. I research and talk to friends in the business daily. It is amazing to have friends all over the world. Who else can say that but travel advisors and people in the travel industry? I so love this business.”

Trish Gastineau of Simply Customized Travel in Fort Myers, Florida, also regularly communicates with clients.

“I think helping to manage expectations is very important right now,” Gastineau said. “I’ve been having conversations with my clients letting them know that post-Covid travel is going to look a lot different than it did pre-pandemic. I stress that they should maintain patience and a sense of humor and stay in touch with me for on the go changes.”