Stories of clients offering agents support in a sudden role reversal have been flooding in to TTG.
One agent said a customer offering them a commission from their booking refund “restored my faith in humanity” amid arguably the toughest week today’s travel sector has endured.
The kind act was one of many goodwill gestures from loyal clients in testing times.
Jemma Boal-Mckeown, an agent with Feherty Travel, was forced to cancel a Jet2holidays booking to Fuerteventura when Spain implemented a national lockdown.
The customer – who had never met Boal-Mckeown before – had booked to take her mother to the Canary Island as a Christmas present.
“I cancelled it for them and then they came back to me and said ‘we want you to take a commission and an extra £50 as it’s not your fault this has happened’,” she told TTG.
After “a lot of back and forth”, Boal-Mckeown kindly refused but asked the client instead to send her friends and family to book with her in future, to which she agreed.
Elsewhere, a London-based homeworker encountered similar generosity from her customer after requesting a voluntary booking fee.
When cancelling an easyJet booking for Lanzarote, the agent asked for the £50 fee, only to be given £100 instead.
“She really understood what we’re going through,” said the agent, who did not want to be named.
“Kindness like this really does give you a boost.” Another homeworker, Travel Counsellors’ Emma Savage, received an email from clients saying they were “thinking of you in these challenging times”.
Meanwhile, agent David Gregg had customers lifting his spirits in a different way – coming to his store to talk about their “eventful” recent cruise holiday, unrelated to coronavirus.
“In these dark days of travel, there is always humour to be found,” he said.
Travel professionals from across the industry have rallied together to help one another as well as members of their community.
Carrick Travel’s staff enjoyed a delivery of chocolates from local Travel Counsellors.
“They said it was between Celebrations and Heroes but [Heroes] won, as we are all heroes at the minute,” said Carrick agent Stacey Knapper, adding: “What an utterly amazing gesture.”
Elsewhere, on her way back from Turkey, Classic Collection Holidays’ Sophie Thackeray took to Twitter to describe aiding an elderly traveller flying back to the UK.
“She was exhausted, teary and fragile. She didn’t know how she was going to get back home,” wrote Thackeray who, upon arriving at Heathrow, helped the woman with her luggage and shopping, and drove her home. “Never has there been more of a time to #bekind than now,” she tweeted.
Closer to home, agency director Neil Crawford was among a number of people who put out an offer of their services to struggling travel businesses.
“Everyone has so much work on, I thought I could help rather than just reading about everyone struggling through it,” he said.
An agent has recounted the lengths taken by her team to stop customers boarding a flight to a cancelled cruise.
The team at Freedom Travel & Cruise in Saddleworth had clients due to sail with Princess Cruises onboard Star Princess from LA to Hawaii earlier this month, when the line cancelled the voyage.
Their attempts to contact the couple, flying from Manchester via London, failed as the elderly pair had their phones turned off.
After being unable to get through to the airline’s customer service desk at Heathrow, the team turned to cabin crew friends, who were working that day, to search for them. They eventually found them in the departures lounge and informed the pair of their cancellation.
“They were relieved. It goes to show why you use an agent for times like we are going through, and we know they’ll book again,” director Gerry Yiatrou told TTG.