Keeping Personal Safe: The Secret to Lasting Partnerships and Lifetime Customers : Travel Weekly

As the global travel industry continues to navigate a climate of uncertainty, guests are looking for more than a glowing recommendation for the best beachfront hotel. They rely on trusted travel advisors to provide peace of mind. of mind, and that includes financial security. This means that the overall sale depends on strong partnerships and an unwavering commitment to customer service.

Travelers spent $3.5 billion on travel insurance products in 2022, according to IBISWorld. A recent AAA Travel survey found that a third of US travelers are more likely to purchase travel insurance for their trips this year due to the pandemic. It’s never been more important for advisors to rely on strong partnerships with experienced travel insurance providers so they can help their clients protect their vacation investments. From minor inconveniences to major medical emergencies, travelers want to know they can relax knowing someone has their back.

Focus on customer experience

According to Forbes, the changing travel landscape has become a catalyst for the transition to more customer-centric services, better transparency and flexibility, and global policies. Travelers want more than a hotline; they want a lifeline. They want to feel supported every step of the way with concierge services, access to telemedicine and roadside assistance. They expect their tickets to be refunded, but they also need to know that they matter: they expect support beyond expectations and a wide range of services that only a leading supplier can offer. .

So many things can derail a vacation — from minor hiccups to emergency medical situations — and every detail needs to be ironed out quickly, says Sue McCloskey, travel manager at Let’s Go! Vacations By Sue, a subsidiary of KHM Travel Group in Maumee, Ohio, specializing in group travel.

For example, when passengers get off a plane and discover that essential equipment such as car seats or bicycles has been damaged, they need immediate help from advisors and insurance companies working together, notes McCloskey.

“You’re really at the mercy of the airline, so these insurance policies provide extra protection for that – my customers love all those bells and whistles,” she says.

Another time, while accompanying a trip to Venice, one of McCloskey’s clients lost her purse. “Trying to deal with the Venice police was a nightmare, but I knew I could get in touch with our insurance company regardless. Luckily she soon realized she had left her purse on the bus, but it could have been a disaster if we had no one to rely on.

Sell ​​a worry-free holiday

“Anyone would be crazy these days not to have travel insurance, especially if they’re traveling overseas,” says Bill Knight, president of All Cruise Travel in San Jose, Calif.

“We had an incident last year where a gentleman fell in the Seychelles and broke 10 ribs. They used emergency medical evacuation to take him to Singapore which basically saved his life. It was a $150,000 bill for the cost of a $600 insurance policy.

Knight adds that his customers are relieved to learn that if they show up at a port to board a cruise ship and then test positive for COVID-19, there is no need to complain. panic.

“The insurance company will step in and rent a hotel room for you or help you get home, and they will reimburse you for the amount of the cruise you missed,” he explains, adding that he l experimented himself in January while he was in Antarctica. with a friend who tested positive for COVID-19 halfway through his cruise.

“He isolated himself and I was isolated because I had dinner with him. The insurance company paid us both for the duration of our isolation,” he adds.

Being able to call for help with inconveniences like a missed flight connection can save a customer’s vacation, Knight notes.

“If you book your own plane tickets, the cruise line doesn’t care; it is your responsibility to get to the next port. The insurance company… will help you find another flight or a daily allowance if you have to stay in a hotel,” he says.

An increase in insurance sales

With over 20 years of experience booking complex itineraries around the world for clients, Tony Huffman knows how vital travel safety is. Most of his clients buy insurance and he has seen the acceptance rate increase by more than 50% since the pandemic. The value of a comprehensive travel insurance product – with a 24/7 support team and global expertise – is incalculable, he says.

“It doesn’t matter if you insure a $250,000 trip or a $1,200 cruise; travel insurance is very important and necessary; customers need to know that if something happens, they won’t lose all their money,” says Huffman, founder and president of Huffman Travel in Dayton, Ohio.

The pandemic has changed the conversation about travel safety, adds Knight.

“Before, we always offered travel insurance, and customers often passed it on, thinking they didn’t need it. Now people ask for it in advance,” he says.

“I can’t even think of clients we have that we don’t have travel insurance for, especially if they’re going out of the country. It’s such a small price to pay for peace of mind,” he says.

Travelers want proactive advisors

Travel counselors believe in protecting travel and pass that belief on to their clients, adds Knight.

“Having a good relationship with your insurance provider is key,” says Knight. “We are able to offer an excellent policy and we have a personalized plan. It’s so important to point out general things like whether the plan includes coverage for pre-existing conditions with a client before they purchase the insurance. But, if there are any questions or coverage issues, I know where to go to make sure the client is taken care of. »

Customers want the reassurance that they can count on their travel counselors to guide them every time, and a strong relationship is built on trust, adds Huffman.

“Just as we will never book a hotel in Paris that we have never heard of, we tell our customers that we stand behind the insurance product we sell; you must have confidence in the product you are selling. said Huffmann.

“We spend hundreds of thousands of dollars a year sending our advisors all over the world to find out what product they’re selling, and insurance is the same thing. It adds value. We had a client who tested positive for his COVID test two days before going on a trip so he had to cancel. They got all their money back and the claim was around $60,000.

Support beyond expectations when it matters most

All it takes is one phone call to convince travelers — and advisers — that insurance is an invaluable investment, McCloskey says. I took a group on a cruise through the British Isles, and on our flight from London to Reykjavík, one of my female guests fell ill on board – she was out of breath,” McCloskey recalls.

When the group landed in Iceland, the client was taken to hospital, where she was treated for pneumonia. She had taken out travel insurance just days before we left, and thank goodness I didn’t have to worry. They stepped in, worked with the hospital and monitored her,” McCloskey recalled. “The level of service was amazing; it showed me that you just can’t travel without insurance because we never know – no matter how old we are – when something is going to go wrong. Today, almost 100% of my clients take out insurance.

McCloskey adds that long-term relationships with trusted insurers make her job easier when it comes to understanding ever-changing travel requirements. I’ve had such unique situations throughout these pandemic breaks where I just need to run something through my rep to make sure I’m doing the right thing, and it’s great to have a shoulder to lean on,” she explains. “I really think customers should always consider travel insurance. We are still going through interesting times and we need to make sure we offer them options that provide the coverage they need, to protect us and our customers.