It’s been a rough month for natural disasters in the northern hemisphere.
Hurricane season, typically August through October in North and Central America, leaves travel agency businesses worldwide holding their collective breath.
The destructive reach of a hurricane goes farther than most people can imagine. On a lesser-known but significant scale, hurricane victims can include travel agency businesses such as those who book vacations on cruise lines, timeshares, hotels and AirBnBs, as well as small airlines and transport, for consumers.
Natural disasters such as hurricanes cause a ripple effect in every essence of the phrase: Vacations get either postponed or cancelled, which results in the same for flights and other transport. Reservations go unfulfilled. And consumers, rightfully, want their money and deposits back.
It can be a nightmare for travel agencies.
Travel agency businesses need to work with their clients
Our staff here at Instabill preaches about chargeback prevention ad nauseum. Refunds are always a better option than chargebacks.
When a natural disaster curbs a traveler’s vacation plans, says Bronwyn Bashore, owner of Top Notch Travel for more than 30 years, it comes down to communication and working with the client to make alternative plans. Proactively offering travel insurance, especially for trips in the Caribbean region during hurricane season, is also a good idea.
Retention is paramount for travel agency merchants – they always want their customers coming back. The last thing a travel merchant wants is a disgruntled customer who files a chargeback.
“If the traveler wisely worked with a travel agent, they would contact their agent to discuss a plan of action,” she said. “This could be cancelling and rebooking to a new destination, or complete cancellation. Depending on the type of plan they purchased, travelers could cancel and be fully refunded. Or, it could cover any costs incurred for rebooking to a new destination.
“Hopefully (travelers impacted by Irma) took their agent’s advice to purchase travel insurance,” she added. “Often times a claim must be filed with the travel insurance company within so many days of a hurricane.”
Ms. Bashore said she has yet to see a significant affect from Irma on her agency. “I’ll have to closely monitor any trade news regarding the progress of clean-up and damage reports to those islands severely hit.”
Not just hurricanes that can cause havoc for travel agency businesses
Although autumn is officially a week away, it’s been a rough start to the fall travel season in certain destinations of the world:
- Hurricanes Irma and Harvey have decimated parts of the Caribbean, southeast and Gulf of Mexico regions of the U.S., a hotbed for vacationers.
- The Oacaxa and Chiapas states of Mexico, both popular regions for hiking and observing Mayan archaeological sites, were recently hit with an earthquake measuring 8.1 on the Richter scale.
- Wildfires in Southern California and parts of Montana, Washington and Oregon, home to many state forests and hiking havens, are far worse than expected, according to experts.
Each has a significant impact on travel, and it explains partially why the travel industry is considered high risk, according to banks.
The best travel agency merchant accounts you can find
Many acquiring banks are hesitant to offer payment processing services for travel agency businesses. True, it is an industry that can be unpredictable, processes high ticket packages and high chargeback rates, but Instabill has banking partners in place which welcome travel agency businesses and other high risk merchants.
With a 10-minute conversation, we can find the custom credit card processing solution you need by reaching out to us at 1-800-530-2444. Our merchant account managers will get you fast approvals and remain with you as your consultants for the life of the merchant account.