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The Return of Flu Season

August 28, 2009 By: Michael Browne

It’s out there, just waiting to wreak havoc with your fall travel plans. The H1N1 virus—swine flu, to most of us—is rearing its ugly head again just as many agents were starting to see a long-awaited turnaround. Preparations are being made worldwide for a resurgence of the virus this fall, as kids go back to school and people return home from summer vacations. But what does it mean for the travel industry?

One agent expressed his concern on AgentNation:
“I own a very small tour company and have a group scheduled to travel to Italy in early November.

“One of the pax is asking what contingency plans are in place should overseas travel not be advised in the fall (she claims she works with medical professionals who think there's a "big chance" [her words] of that happening). Frankly, at this point, I have no such contingency plans. Once my suppliers have been paid, I would only be able to provide refunds to pax not wishing to travel if the suppliers are willing to issue refunds—with a small business, I cannot refund pax money I do not have.

“I am not sure how to finesse this with the client other than to assure her that there have been few cases of swine flu in Italy thus far and based on our itinerary and mode of travel (via private coach), she is unlikely to be exposed to it. But she is insisting on a contingency plan and I'm not sure what to tell her without risking losing the business. I am concerned that if she thinks she won't get a refund if she cancels, she'll just cancel now but I cannot promise her a refund if it won't be offered by suppliers.

“Anyone have any experience with this situation and have any advice?”

Agents are invited to share their thoughts and experiences with swine flu, cancellations, contingency plans and related issues on AgentNation


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