Welcome to the eighth episode of the Travel Well with Allan Wright!
In this week’s episode, Allan discusses the different cancellation policies of various businesses in the travel industry. Change is constant right now and companies need to provide flexibility.
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At Zephyr, we treat people like people and not just another number. We understand that you have to make whatever decision is right for you during the pandemic – and that may be different than what the right decision is for someone else. With our updated COVID-19 cancellation policy, we’ve received some very positive feedback from our travelers. Here’s a snippet from an email from one of our alumni:
“We have read and re-read this email several times. There are no words to express our surprise, appreciation, gratitude, etc. We were not expecting anything due to the timing of our cancellation. As Jake and I were talking about this gift; he said, ‘Zephyr is more than a business, it is a family!’ Thank you to our family.” – Elizabeth
Can’t watch the video right now? Here’s the video transcript of Travel Cancellation Policies – Episode 8:
Hi, this is Allan Wright. Welcome to the Travel Well with Allan video update. Today I’d like to talk about cancellations. We all know that airlines have been tough in the past if you change a ticket you have often a big change for you of a couple hundred bucks and if you cancel a ticket often times you don’t get any money back whatsoever. That has changed.
I took a look at Delta’s policy and they are allowing changes to tickets that are booked through August 31st with no penalty and if they cancel a flight they’ll give you a full refund.
Hotels have always been the major chains anyway have always been more flexible and that’s still true. Hilton has a policy that you can change or cancel with no penalty up to 24 hours in advance.
I took a look at three new york hotels to see what their policies were as an example there’s a wide difference in policy. One of the hotels had nothing on its website about COVID-19 at all including nothing about their cancellation policies. A second one had the same policies they had previously which was that you needed to give them two weeks’ notice to get your money back the third had complete information right upfront about their COVID-19 policies. And they had a very flexible cancellation policy of 24 hours notice and you could cancel with no penalty whatsoever
I also took a look at another tour company that’s one of our major competitors now tour companies have always had cancellation policies that are a little tough in part because we are running small tours ane cancellations of a small group can really affect the outcome of that tour this tour company had loosened its restrictions and you could cancel with 30 to 35 to 60 days advance notice and get a credit for a future tour. However, if they canceled a tour they would give you a credit and not a refund.
Zephyr has changed his policies a couple of different times over the past months as we’ve learned more about this pandemic. We now have a policy that if we cancel a tour for any reason you can get full credit or full refund. If you cancel a tour, we don’t need any advance notice and you get a full credit for that less any non-recoverable costs we might have already paid for you.
So a few lessons number one there needs to be great flexibility right now and it’s important. For example, we just ran an Idaho biking and skating tour a few weeks ago. When we announced that tour would run 60 days in advance, we had 21 people on it 10 people ultimately canceled and I don’t blame them. They had problems with traveling or they had concerns about risk. In addition, five new people booked that tour in the last 60 days. So there’s quite a difference in risk level and it depends on where you are living as well.
Number two, it is important for everybody in the travel industry to be giving money back to travelers if you can’t run your tour provide your hotel stay or you cancel your flight. Not everybody’s doing that. That needs to change.
Number three, the big companies have got it right they recognize that they need to be encouraging people to travel and they’ve changed their policies to do that.
Number four, there are many small companies that don’t even have information about COVID on their website. That needs to be front and center on every website that has anything to do with people visiting. And it’s not the case.
And finally number five, there are many small companies that haven’t gotten around to being flexible. They’re still creating quote fair cancellation policies but that’s not what we need right now. I think that we need to have cancellation policies that go beyond fair and are encouraging you our travelers to travel again when it’s safe to do so.
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