They see it on television and they read about it on the internet. It’s a topic of discussion during dinner. You know what I am talking about: The “T” word… Terrorism!
No doubt about it, we live in a world where recent, violent, and tragic events have changed us all for ever.
As a travel expert and industry veteran, I have seen this type of client fear and concern before. Do you all remember Pan Am 101? Travel in general came to a screeching halt. Hijacking of airlines was all but of unheard of back then.
Keep in mind that the American people are perhaps the most resilient people in the world and as history has proven: we see what happens, we get shaken up, but them we move on.
Fast forward to today…
As professional travel agents we are not only travel consultants, but sometimes to an even greater extent, we are also psychiatrists. Clients have an overwhelming need to share some of the most intimate details of their lives with us while discussing their travel plans.
My wife is sick… my daughter just gave birth… this is a special birthday… I am going to retire next month… I just sold my business… it goes on and on.
Your clients want you to know what is driving their decisions. Your interaction with them becomes critical in order for you to do your job, which is creating the best possible holiday for them.
So now you get a call from Tom and Mary who are booked to travel to Western Europe; or Bill and Barbara who are all set for a fantastic Mediterranean Cruise, and they tell you, “We are afraid to go on this trip with all that’s been happening in the world. Please cancel.”
What do you do? Say okay and cancel their plans? NO.
Now here is where you put on your Psychiatry hat and use logic and reason to share your candid and always (should always be) honest thoughts.
I received similar calls to the ones illustrated above. My responsive discussions with them were candid, logical and most importantly, sincere and honest.
I shared my concerns with them which were similar to their own; however, and this is a big however, I bring to their attention that the result of recent events is that a very bright spotlight is now on the intelligence agencies and the security procedure of governments around the world. If there was ever a silver lining to a cloud, then this is it! The result is that every nation in the civilized world is on alert and putting significantly more resources and attention on everything from basics like airport security, to men on the street.
America is also sharing our robust intelligence gathering with these governments, and we have these bad guys on the run.
If you have been to Europe and other countries recently, you can see and feel the police (and even military) presence, not to mention major undercover security.
This presence might be new to European nations but its old hat in places like Israel where armed military is seen mingling in with the people every place you go. It most definitely gives you a feeling of being safe; and in fact, one can argue the it makes things safer.
While no one can predict the future, it seems to me that we are becoming safer than a year ago. Diligence, awareness, and aggressive security measures are now the norm in our world.
If your clients are resigned to give into their fears, they can stay home.
Or, there are so many destinations that have not been in the recent news. Destinations like Alaska, South America, South Africa, Australia, New Zealand and of course, the good old USA, as well as the option of a cruise.
But then I tell my clients: remember San Bernardino? Well that was right here in the “world’s safest country.”
You could go outside of your home and get hit by truck; and poof, life is over. It is highly improbable, but possible.
Whenever and wherever you travel you always want to be smart. No visits down dark alleys, bad neighborhoods, etc. Avoid demonstrations that might be taking place and blend in with your environment as opposed to standing out. Respect the culture and the destination, and have fun.
Travel is perhaps the most wonderful and glorious adventure life has to offer. Don’t be intimidated by a few random acts of insane violence.
For those who appreciate math and statistics, take a sampling of 200 European cities that were visited by travelers each day of the year. So 200 x 365 days equals 73,000 visits—5 incidents out of 73,000. Seems like pretty good odds to me.
Scott Grody is the owner of Scott Grody Travel and an industry veteran with over 50 years in the travel business and expertise in the Leisure, Group, and Corporate Travel Management arenas.