These last few weeks have been a whirlwind for the travel industry. This week Executive Travel was able to launch our “Survive then Thrive” company initiative to help us make sure when the travel industry does come back that we are able to retain our great team so that we can continue our company’s growth that we have seen over the last 34 years. I had a whole list of items to share with you this week but if you are like me you are getting exhausted with all the emails and news reports. I just wanted to send you this weekly note to FIRST and FOREMOST, thank you for your business and friendship. Also, I am so proud to share that our amazing team is still together and committed to beating this economic storm and providing you with the outstanding service our company is known for and committed to.
One last comment. Many people have called to ask if we are O.K. financially. We are so thankful that over the years we have been able to build our company with ZERO debt and also access to additional lines of credit if needed. Bottom line: We are blessed with an amazing staff, wonderful customers, and the financial security to weather this storm. Despite all this mess, I feel blessed.
May God bless and protect each one of you, your family, and co-workers from this health and economic virus monster.
Let’s “Survive then Thrive” together.
Thankful for your kindness,
With all the COVID-19 travel cancellations this spring we are seeing that the majority of vacation travel is being moved to this fall. The 30-day travel ban to Europe has put a wrench in travel plans for many Americans. As a result, we are already seeing a wave of travel reservations rescheduled during the months of September and October. Bottom line, if you are planning a vacation for this Fall please understand that things are filling quickly and many of the trips planned for March, April, and May are being moved to the Fall months. Even during a travel ban, you can still make reservations for later this year. I think you are wise to do it now as the airlines are allowing you to cancel without penalty if things stay the same.
Ever had to wait 7 hours for an airline to answer the phone? –
We are hearing that some people have been on hold for up to 7 hours to get through to speak with an airline during this past week. You can imagine the nightmare the airlines are having with millions of people trying to cancel or reschedule their flights. This is another reason you should be using a friendly travel advisor for your next trip. Our average on-hold time? An amazing 12 seconds yesterday!
The biggest airfare sale in history, I predicted last week, will probably pop up in April –
The COVID-19 international travel ban is also keeping people from traveling domestically. The airlines are allowing most travelers who have reservations in March and April to reschedule or in some cases refund their tickets. There are thousands of empty planes that the airlines need to fill fast once the virus starts to decline and the risk of sickness subsides. They will do this with the biggest airfare sale in history that I predict will start when flights hopefully resume to Europe around the 15th of April. Also, some people predict that the Boeing 737MAX will soon be approved for flying again bringing on hundreds of additional airplanes into the summer flying season. This next airfare sale should be a whopper!
Hotel prices are falling like a rock –
In addition to the airlines hemorrhaging billions of dollars from COVID-19 the hotels are also seeing devastating cancellations. We understand many hotels are seeing occupancy rates as low as 10%. What is bad news for them is good news for you. Hotel rates are dropping like a rock. We are seeing some rates dropping 10% – 20% or more as travel has come to a standstill. As this virus starts to decline and people restart their travel planning, they can take advantage of great hotel discounts.
Millions of people are now working from home as the result of COVID-19 –
Working from home is very new for many workers but not for Executive Travel. Thirty years ago our company was one of the first to initiate a work from home (virtual) workforce. At the time, one of our exceptional agents, JP Hamblen, who still works for us, was moving to Illinois. We could not afford to lose her so we spent $1000 a month (before the internet) to set up a private phone line into her house so she could be connected to our systems. Now all our corporate agents work from home around the country using the internet ($50 a month cost). Looks like we were 30 years ahead of our time.
Is the internet slowing down as millions of people video conference and move to work from home? –
I have noticed that my internet speed has slowed down considerably and my guess is that as millions of meetings turn to the internet that bandwidth is being taxed and service degrades. Has anyone else noticed the internet slowing down?
In two weeks you will see the biggest airfare sale in the last 10 years –
Airlines are seeing a massive amount of ticket refunds and lower ticket sales because of the virus panic. They are also smart enough to know that you always get out of the way of a stampede. They will let the current panic subside before they launch any new marketing campaigns. Many people are optimistic that panic will soon give way to a balanced approach in the coming weeks. And when that time comes, I predict you will see a massive airfare sale to get people into those empty seats. Today I spoke with several airline reps who asked me what could be done to stimulate travel again. I suggested they wait a few weeks and launch a buy-one, get-one-free airline ticket campaign. This would surely get people traveling again once people are more confident in knowing more about the risks of Coronavirus. Let’s see if they listen to me.
Now is the time to use your frequent flyer miles to cash in for business class tickets to Europe –
This last week I checked many flights to see if I could find “saver” miles space for business class tickets to Europe. I was amazed to see how many flights had business class seats available that I could redeem for miles. Now is the time to take advantage of this amazing window to capture business class seats using your airline and credit card frequent flyer miles.
I just returned from a trip to Berlin, Germany –
As you know, many people have become paralyzed by all the information (good and bad) about the Coronavirus. Last week I shared with you my perspective, that it is right to be cautious but wrong for us to become paralyzed. With this in mind, I decided to fly over the pond to see what I could see. My general observations were that international flights that normally are 90% full were 60% full. Domestic flights I flew were packed. I only saw four people wearing masks on flights I was on. It will be interesting to see what happens this week with flight changes and cancellations.
My prediction last week came true –
Last week I predicted that “Every single one of us will be affected by Coronavirus”. Sure enough, the stock market has lost over $6 trillion in value in the last 6 days. The more we panic the higher the price this virus will cost us.
If I hear “Wash your hands” one more time! –
It is amazing that our personal hygiene is so poor today. I hope the one positive thing that will come from this scare is that people will be more responsible with their personal hygiene. Unfortunately, when I flew last week I noticed that almost 25% of the people in the restroom did not wash their hands before leaving the restroom. That is a really sad commentary on our society today. Let’s hope we can change some of this disappointing behavior.
I am amazed at the number of people who don’t use a professional travel advisor who have called me this week for advice –
This virus is the perfect example of why “YOU” should use a friendly travel advisor for all your travel reservations. Not only do we provide great value, options, and advice, but we also help you out of a mess like this virus when the doo doo hits the fan. If you are looking for someone to coach you through times like these we would view it as an honor to help you on your next trip.
Are you ready for some wild west excitement? –
I invite you to join a fun-filled journey with the Nebraska Cattlemen Association to experience the sell-out Calgary Stampede with rodeo action, heart-stopping chuckwagon races, outdoor stage shows, and a dinner at the famous Clubhouse Rustic Kitchen. All this followed by touring the breathtaking beauties of Alberta including Banff National Park, Bow Falls, Lake Minnewanka, a helicopter ride, and stunning Lake Louise. Stay at some of the best hotels, choose to depart from Omaha or Denver on July 7 with a return on July 12, 2020. CLICK HERE to see the detailed tour program. Limited space is available. Call or email our friendly group department today to sign up, (402) 858-0033 / GroupDepartmentexecutivetravel.com.
For the last month, we have seen the world stampede in response to the Coronavirus outbreak in China. Wallstreet crashed over 10% down last week, airlines cut routes, businesses put international travel on hold, and basically the press started a tornado of worst-case scenarios that would and have frightened many people around the world. Last week I was interviewed by the Wallstreet Journal and I said that it is right that we are cautious but wrong for us to become paralyzed. Now we must stop the panic and look logically at what is happening with the virus. How big is it, how bad is it, can it affect me and how can I protect myself, family and friends from it. Below are a few of my personal opinions, ideas, and perspectives I ask you to use to balance all the information coming at you.
You are 6 times more likely to die from Influenza and Pneumonia than Coronavirus in the last 6 weeks –
21,650 people have died from the flu and pneumonia in the last 6 weeks compared to about 3,000 from Coronavirus. This according to the World Health Organization that keeps track of weekly flu statistics. Basically you are 6 times more likely to die from the flu than Coronavirus.
Every single one of us will be affected by Coronavirus –
I think it is more likely to affect our pocketbooks, not our health. This last week we all lost over 3 trillion dollars in the stock market crash. Yours and my 401K retirement plans are now called 401C plans after the Coronavirus. Do not let panic be a self-fulfilling prophecy to pull our economy into a possible recession.
The fatality rate for Influenza is twice the rate of Coronavirus –
Once again the World Health Organization says 7.24% of infected people with pneumonia and the flu have died compared with a 3% rate for Coronavirus during the last 6 weeks.
An estimated 6000 people a year die from being struck by lightning –
Unfortunately, 3000 have died from Coronavirus. I think this one statistic puts this whole issue in perspective. I certainly don’t want to belittle the suffering Coronavirus has brought to many people, however, we must keep things in perspective.
Five simple steps travelers can take to stop the spread of Coronavirus –
I found a simple five-step article that reinforces there are very basic rules of hygiene that can help us prevent the spread of this virus. Maybe the silver lining to come out of this scare is that society will teach and learn the basic rules of personal hygiene to keep us safe and healthy. CLICK HERE to read the five simple steps.
I am an eternal optimist –
The governments of the world are taking this issue very seriously. We will contain it very soon and we will conquer it as well. Most people will have their antennas up and go about their daily lives, of work and travel without panicking. More importantly, we will all learn a big lesson about how panic and overreacting may actually be worse than the virus itself. I am getting on a plane today to fly to Germany. I, for one, will live cautiously but not paralyzed. I invite you to join me.