The news lately has me a bit distracted as a travel professional. Japan in particular is a huge concern for me, so I an going to deviate a bit from the diary topics, I hope you don’t mind. The power of the ocean; in its magnificent immenseness, mesmerizing allure and the tranquil consoling that is unmistakable by one of mother nature’s most necessary and precious gifts; but as we have seen lately in Japan and previously in Indonesia, the ocean is not always the calm paradise depicted on the lively and exotic travel posters posted at your neighborhood agency. As travel agents, we are almost all guilty of selling the dream of a wonderfully sun splashed holiday or a weather perfect beach, but why not?
We all have been affected by the events that have happened recently. But the magnitude and pure power these forces have exhibited; it is hard not to feel, as an agent, that any one of our clients could ever experience a catastrophe of similar nature. And while we all should be selling the benefits of travel insurance; I wonder how good a policy could be in such a disastrous situation—none cover emotional distress.
Since I live and conduct business in South Florida, a major part of my business is in the form of cruises and Caribbean destinations. While Florida is famous for hurricanes, the islands my clients sail or fly to are equally targeted to encounter fierce storms. And, let’s not forget the tremendous devastation in Haiti that was caused by a massive earthquake in 2010 which did extensive damage, but produced little in tsunami sized waves to the neighboring islands. Many clients that visit these idyllic islands in the Caribbean are sold into thinking that their slice of paradise will always be there. But they fail to acknowledge or be educated to the fact that there are active volcanoes, such as Montserrat and major oceanic fault lines criss-crossing deep trenches that could present various kinds of natural disasters in the Caribbean at any moment.
The recent events in Japan serve to affirm the frailty of our existence with the environment. As sellers of travel, as well as dreams, we must be aware that no place is ever safe. No place is truly paradise when unknown forces lie beneath the surface waiting to unleash its fury at the next unsuspecting moment. But as business people, we direct our clients to the experiences they seek. For some, that experience may be a quiet cruise to the Caribbean or staying at an all inclusive resort in the islands; to others climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro or white water rafting. On the surface, the cruise/resort looks like a relatively safe trip, but the way Mother Nature has a way of turning things on their ear : we can’t really be sure now.
In light of the tragic events, I am fortunate to see my business continue to grow. The Caribbean and cruises out of Florida are selling well and I am experiencing growth in many new areas where my familiarity is lacking. As I become more knowledgeable with these destinations, it is important to not only learn about the location, people and weather, but also maybe a little about the land and what lies beneath.
Vincent Yeck, CTA, DS is the owner and agent of Yeck’s Cruise & Travel in Lake Worth, Florida. He is a “Destination Specialist” for the Caribbean and specializes in cruises, family travel and groups; including youth sports fundraising. He also is the OSSN Chapter Director for Palm Beach County and the Treasure Coast, a travel industry trade association representing and supporting the Independent Travel Agent, Home Based Travel Agency, and the Outside Sales Travel Agent. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or his website at www.yecks.com.