Catching Up - What We're Doing During COVID
Wanderlust with Us Issue XVIII - July 24, 2020
What's the Scoop?
We all know that travel came to an immediate halt in March when the pandemic began. You may be wondering what Camelback Travel has been up to four months later – are they still working daily? Is the office still open? Is anyone even booking trips right now? We wanted to give you a status update on how our world has changed and what a day in our life looks like. Check in with a few of our team members below to hear the scoop!
Every day our private client team meets on Zoom at 10AM and 3PM. So, if you are speaking with one of us, you’re speaking to all of us because together we strategize about the best destination and options for each of you when you send us a request. Likewise, we also huddle on how to best manage cancellations and refunds to get the best possible outcome for the client. In addition, the other twenty-five advisors we have escalate their issues to me. Sometimes, I feel more like Ray Donovan than a travel advisor trying to work with suppliers to get a fair resolution for our clients and protect their investment. Sometimes it’s renegotiating cancellation terms, sometimes it’s getting creative on credit card refunds, but the highlight of our day is hearing from you!
Although cancellations and refunds have become a huge part of our daily routine, I also have taken over as our honeymoon expert! Many of our clients have unfortunately needed to cancel or reschedule their long-awaited European and African safari honeymoons. Luckily, I have been able to turn their negative into a positive and assisted in creating an equally as wonderful experience for them here in the US. We are seeing couples interested in properties such as Malibu Beach Inn, Blackberry Farm, Amangani, and everywhere in-between. Regardless of where you choose to celebrate, I will make sure it will be a magical trip that you will never forget.
My day to day has completely transformed since the pandemic began a few months ago. Every single day we monitor cancellations and refunds with our air, cruise, and hotel partners, which continues to be a large component of my workload. I absolutely love planning trips with our clients and although it has been much closer to home days, it brings me so much joy to work with you on these trips. Speaking of.. with some extra time on our hands, I redesigned our welcome home package that is delivered to you upon your return to give it a fresh look. I hope you enjoy seeing it after your next trip!
Most of you don’t know me personally, because I am the “behind the scenes” queen with my hands in everything from accounting to human resources to marketing, but I can assure you I know every one of your names and the trips you have taken as all the information passes through my weekly reports. During the shutdown I had to coordinate the sudden closing of our office while still maintaining some sense of business normalcy for our team. Once we were allowed to reopen the office, it was my responsibility to make sure we were providing our team a safe environment to work in. This has included additional cleaning measures, making sure face masks are available for everyone, and taking the temperature of every person who walks into our office. On top of all the opening protocols, I have also been spending my time staying in touch with vendors trying to speed up refunds any way I can. I’ve also been able to work on upgrading some marketing initiatives that needed a face lift which have already proven to be very successful, even in this environment.
Our focus since March has been to make it as smooth as possible for travelers to get future travel credits, refunds and options from our travel partner suppliers. Arranging summer ranch vacations in Montana and Wyoming for families to replace disappointing cancellations on Alaska, Tahiti, cruises and European vacations has been our new goal. I am on Cape Cod in a home that’s been in my family for 112 years, working from the ocean with Brittany in the Phoenix office. Remote working is a new one. Staying positive and healthy is the goal. Fly Fishing from my kayak at sunset on the incoming tide is my favorite!
During the past four months our days have changed drastically, we are continuously working with our travel partners and suppliers on refunds, cancellations and future travel credits. The ranch properties in the West have been a popular choice for families who had to cancel international travel plans this summer and we are lucky to live in such a large, diverse country with so many wonderful properties and opportunities to explore something new. I have been using any extra time I’ve had to further my education on some of our favorite destinations, completing specialist programs for Kenya, South Africa, Australia and New Zealand so that once you are traveling again we will have the perfect suggestions for your itinerary!
Partner Profile: Markos Chaidemenos
Managing Director at Canaves Oia, Luxury Resorts, Santorini
Markos, tell us what you've been doing..
"This year I am celebrating 10 years as a Managing Director of Canaves Oia Luxury Resorts. 10 years of smiling guests, hard working days under the Greek sun, busy winters of travelling around the world. Very weird season to celebrate however, the pandemic helped all of us to appreciate the small moments and what's important in life. I am glad that my family who started this business is healthy and safe and we can dream of new opportunities for the years ahead. During the lockdown, I had to cancel all my trips and stay at home as usually the season opens in Santorini in April and keeps us very busy. I spent my time cooking, reading and dreaming about the future of our properties. But now we are eventually here in Santorini, along with our staff and we started welcoming our first guests. It's going to be a very different season. As Oia's famous sunset colours are different every day we are adapting and learn to appreciate the little moments of happiness. Finally i will play the guest in Santorini…"