While the Globus family of brands is monitoring the worldwide coronavirus situation one day at a time, the company remains optimistic that this careful planning will minimize any impact to this year’s travel season.
Globus’ Managing Director Stéphanie Bishop and Director of Marketing Chris Jones addressed the situation during a media breakfast on Feb. 27, just days after an explosion of COVID-19 infections in Italy, one of the company’s top-selling destinations across its Globus, Monograms and Avalon Waterways brands.
While all of the brands’ tours to China (including Hong Kong) have been suspended through April, Bishop said that Globus continues to monitor the situation in all countries where it operates tours, sharing information across its global offices during daily information scrums to update the global team.
“The reality is that when you sell the world, there are challenges that arise,” said Bishop. “I’m very proud that I work for an organization that puts the safety of its guests above all.
“We’ve been through many challenging times,” she continued, citing world events such as SARS, 9/11, the Black Friday market crash and the Balkan War. “There are events that happen from time to time. I feel we can’t take anything lightly – we need to monitor very closely everything that’s happening, which is what Globus is doing – but what is most important is that we need to let calm prevail; let’s not panic…. We don’t have a crystal ball – I can’t tell you what’s going to happen in two weeks or two months from now – but this is top of mind. There’s been more calls to the call centre and we’re dealing with it; it’s a fluid situation.”
Most importantly, she added that the team is avoiding jumping to any conclusions – such as cancelling tours to affected destinations outright – or taking “blanket approaches” due to the fluid nature of the outbreak and its varying impacts on the destinations in which Globus operates.
“Our industry is complex; between airlines, cruise lines and everything else, there’s so many moving parts and when you layer everything on top of one another, you’ve got a machine that is constantly moving,” Bishop said.
“Our business is so intertwined that you don’t want to make a decision today that may not even be a factor in a few weeks.”
While new bookings to China and other affected destinations may slow down later this year, Bishop said that there’s been few cancellations of existing bookings to other destinations. In the event of a concerned guest or agent, Bishop said that those travellers have been able to move to different tours and destinations.
“Because our programs are booked so far out, we haven’t seen a lot of cancellations, but it might cause new bookings to slow down,” she said. “It’s way too early to predict any trend. People don’t book these trips at the last minute. Last minute for us is three or four months out.
“Our travellers and travel agents are calling with concerns – we’ve been able to switch some travellers to other tours. Every call depends on the destination.”
Despite the current situation, however, Bishop cited the travel industry’s resiliency in the face of past crises.
“The travel industry is always the first to be affected when there’s a world event – but I’m very confident that we’ll also be the first industry to rebound,” Bishop said.
“We lose sight that more people are affected by the seasonal flu than this and we track every government advisory; we take it one situation at a time.”
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