Social media for travel agents has been a hotbed of excitement lately. There have been three main types of posts. There are posts about suppliers who are either wonderful to work with or those who have made extremely unpopular decisions and angered the masses. There are posts about PPP and EIDL and if people are actually getting them or not. And there are the memes. Oh boy are there memes!
Let’s tackle these one at a time.
There is no doubt that some suppliers have made some extremely bad decisions recently. We are in unprecedented times and most of these companies are fighting just to survive. When put in stressful situations some people thrive, others fold. I will avoid calling out anyone specifically for their poor decisions but suffice it to say that there are many agencies who will not be back once life returns to some semblance of normalcy. What is really sad is the unprofessionalism that some agents are showing. We are all under pressure, a lot more than normal. If you were to be judged by your worst moments, how would you be judged? These suppliers are experiencing their worst moments right now. This isn’t to excuse the bad decisions, but more to be a cautionary tale to not make them your worst moments too. There is a right and a wrong way to approach situations such as these. You can see both of these expressed on social media right now.
The CARES Act (and hopefully the HEROES Act – not passed at the time of this writing) have provided some relief for many of us but its has been slow going. Personally I received funding on my EIDL loan and that certainly provided some relief. Many agents are finding great luck in acquiring PPP loans with smaller lenders and avoiding many of the big banks who seem to not care about the little guy. Unfortunately, many of our colleagues waited too long and these vehicles are out of funding unless Congress acts to bolster it further. The advance on EIDL (initially passed to be $10,000) ended up being cut down significantly for most people and only a few people have actually received funding on an actual EIDL loan now. To make matters worse, most people are still confused about the differences between EIDL and PPP. Social media posts are abound with questions where agents are clearly mixing the two programs up and it’s not hard to do that. This isn’t an area of expertise for most of us. The new HEROES Act goes before the house soon and is supposed to bring additional funding for people, including extending the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance for longer. This has been another saving grace for those of us whose business has dried up. The Senate isn’t expected to take up this right away and I am sure there will be a ton of back and forth. Most agents still have questions about combining PUA, PPP and EIDL. Unfortunately, I fear this confusion will get worse before it gets better as more legislation is passed.
If there has been one saving grace for us all mentally, it’s the memes. It has been a stressful and depressing time and humour has helped quite a bit. Some may be a bit on the risqué side. We are all adults and know how to move on if something is a bit offensive. Some hit VERY close to home such as the ones where people don’t know how to wear their PPE (masks and gloves). Seriously, why drive in a car alone with the windows up and a mask on? What am I missing?
We all miss travelling, it’s the biggest reason most of us get into this business. We all have to find our coping mechanisms. Funny jokes, cute animals, social interactions via Zoom or just simply being an ear for a friend, these are all important to help us make it. Our businesses need clients and need funding but we also need each other. We need to help pull each other up what looks like an impassable mountain. From the other side, we will see this was just another hiccup in time like so many things in the past that have challenged us. We shall prevail. Tourism is strong!
Written By: Jesse Morris, Owner – We Book Travel, LLC