Strange times! It is safe to say that in the forty-plus years that Bon Voyage has been tailoring holidays to North America, we have never had to deal with anything like this. Through multiple wars, 9/11 and other terrorist campaigns, forest fires, hurricanes, floods, a volcanic ash cloud not forgetting bird flu and zika virus we have remained open. The pandemic is the first thing that's actually managed to shut us down - temporarily - but even so, we have a team of our very best specialists working from home to take care of our customers.
What has touched us has been the many emails, calls and comments on our social media to ask if we were ok! Everyone has their own struggles - we know that - but the outpouring of solidarity for the Bon Voyage team has been remarkable. Thank you.
Currently we have seven people actively working – all from home. At the beginning of the Covid crisis they were busy bringing stranded customers home, cancelling arrangements, sorting out refunds and trying to recover money paid to suppliers on behalf of our customers. Right now, they are handling customer enquiries such as postponing travel to the autumn and into next year and taking new bookings for 2021.
Everybody else has been furloughed under the government's Job Retention Scheme waiting for when it is safe and prudent to re-open. Meanwhile, apart from viewing Netflix box sets, we now have an expert hula-hooper in the Marketing team, bread has been baked, bookshelves organised and hedges trimmed. Theresa has been broadcasting live on Facebook, Amelia has been studying the American Civil War and Chloe has added to her impressive collection of travel industry accreditations.
You will be aware how hard the travel business has been hit by this crisis but with so many of our customers having chosen to defer their trips until next year we are well-placed, not merely to weather this storm, but to come out strong on the other side. You may have read of airlines and holiday companies being unwilling or unable to refund their clients. Bon Voyage is financially strong, owing to the conservative policies we have followed for many years and, of course, all money is secured by our government-backed licence from the Civil Aviation Authority and bonding with ABTA, the Association of British Travel Agents. Be assured that when our clients have asked for a refund they have, without question, been fully reimbursed. While many may be quite understandably cautious about committing to a long-distance holiday, please be assured that we will always prioritise your safety as we move towards the new normal in travel and life.
We are waiting for the right moment to re-open the office. In the meantime, our experts are currently available Monday to Friday each week from 1000 until 1500 to discuss your holiday plans - we're ready when you are! On behalf of all of us at Bon Voyage, thank you for your support and stay safe...and don't stop dreaming!