SUNBIZ

Travel Agency Sales Not Spared By Coronavirus

Now should be one of the busiest time of the year for travel agencies to receive bookings, but with the COVID-19 outbreak in the country, travel agencies have been hard hit because they are directly involved with the tourism industry.
26 Mar 2020 16:56
Travel Agency Sales Not Spared By Coronavirus

Now should be one of the busiest time of the year for travel agencies to receive bookings, but with the COVID-19 outbreak in the country, travel agencies have been hard hit because they are directly involved with the tourism industry.

SunBiz visited some of these travel agencies this week.

One World Flight Centre

As of December 15, 2019, to March 2020, One World Flight Centre has recorded a $6 million loss in revenue.

This was revealed by its managing director Rajjat Chaudhary who says the travel centre has noted a drop in ticket sales as a result of COVID-19

“Since December 15 2019, our sales started going down, January and February sales had also gone down as people started cancelling their bookings and opting for refunds.

“In March we had a total stop in sales.

“Our business has been hit very hard with this virus.

“If we continue in this scale, we might have to close,” he said.

Actions taken by the company

Mr Chaudhary said the company has begun taking actions to save the company and to keep the staff semi-employed.

“Although there is no work we have 32 staff for all our offices and it’s actually too difficult to maintain so we have decided on a 40 per cent pay cut.

“We have been planning this for the past two weeks and we are making it effective from next week while staff will still receive this week’s full pay.

“We are also reducing the number of people in the office, some of the staff will take leave without pay while some will work for only two to three days.

“So we have a few options that we are working with as we have people that we need in the office like our accounts department who will try and collect some money because we got commitments to make payments like rent, electricity bills and up keeping the records.

“So my accounts department will be working as well as some of our consultants on a full-time basis but they will work on a rotation shift,” he said.

The company has also been practising safety measures in regards to COVID-19by wearing face masks and washing hands regularly with soap and water.

One World Center has nine outlets in Fiji with 32 staff.

Its Dominion house office currently has 17 staff.

Discount Flight Centre

Meanwhile, Discount Flight Centre isn’t making many drastic changes until the Government supplementary budget announcement today.

However, the travel centre has noted a slow in ticket sales and bookings.

Managing director Sashi Singh says there have been a few sales from domestic flights from Suva to Nadi, Labasa, and Savusavu.

“What we have also noticed that customers are opting for a refund for tickets that were booked for this period.

“So it’s totally an inactive business for travel agencies

“We have not cut short our staff, we would like to see how the budget goes and then we will make decisions.

“Our staff at the moment are still working full time and we have not cut any salaries,”

In terms of refunds for customers that have made earlier bookings, Mr Singh has advised that those tickets can be used at a later date.

“Customers have a choice to re-validated their tickets for a flight at a later date without any penalties to pay.

“For a refund, the travel agency can then make a refund request to the airline for the funds to be refunded,” he said.

Operating hours

Mr Singh said Discount Flight Centre is operating at normal hours.

“In our office, we have allowed the staff to work full time also where possible we have allowed a lot more space for staff to work.

“They can work remotely if they chose to because everything is done online.

“I have encouraged the staff if they have any overdue leave, they are entitled to take it now with full pay,” he said.

In terms of precautionary measures, customers and staff of Discount Flight Centre have been advised by the company to be cautious and take extra care.

Discount Flight Centre has three offices in Fiji.

Travel Centre

Travel Centre senior travel consultant Mosese Coriakula said they have refunded $50,000 to their customers last week.

“This refund depends on how they purchase their ticket if it’s on a credit card it goes back to their credit card,” Mr Coriakula.

“The requirements by Qantas this time it says refunding.

He said customers can come forward if they want their money reimbursed.

“Some of them want to keep their ticket, they keep that in credit.

“What they do is they cancel their booking, so they rebook without a fee.

He said: “There is massive disruption of flights for everybody.

“We have customers most are business people who have had their money refunded.

“Many have organised their trip for the year and they have paid for it, so I have to reimburse it.

“A lot of customers are away and they want to return but there are no flights,” he said.

Mr Coriakula said: “My job every day is changing, cancelling, refunding tickets when it’s required.

Most of the time I handle this online business has preferred by Qantas”

Macquarie Travel World

Macquarie Travel World Branch manager Alpa Rathod said bookings have been affected and flights been cancelled.

“There is a huge drop in the booking requests from customers because international events have been cancelled.

“Many organisations are reluctant to make bookings for future trips because they have no idea when travel bans are clear.

“At the moment we have some clients who are stuck in other countries so we trying to get them back using the flights of airlines they purchased from.

“We have issued masks, gloves and hand sanitiser gels to our staff.”

Jad International Travel Services

Senior travel consultant Joeli Temo said they are 95 per cent down at the moment.

“There were a lot of cancellations made.

Right now we only have domestic flights from Suva to Labasa, Suva to Nadi but there is not much movement.

“Customers start cancelling their trips when the COVID- 19 started in China.

“We are the front liners, very soon they will go but the airline industry it’s been so hard.

“No revenue coming in so it’s a big loss.

We hope things will work well for another month or so.

If the ban extend than it will be worse.

“We won’t be able to give any refund at the moment, what customers should do is to wait when everything goes well then they can travel.

“At the moment some of our staff are taking their leave but still get paid.

“But the management will meet again this week to decide what step to take next.

“Customer please don’t panic, stay home and be safe.”

Mr Temo said their staff were given masks, gloves, and hand sanitiser gels at work.

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