Checking in With Tina
Tina has been with Santa Barbara Travel for over 25 years. She is a Tahiti Tiare specialist, and a Hawaii, Central America, Mexico, Canada, Easter Island, Amazon in Peru, Hawaii, Alaska, Pacific Northwest, Italy, Germany, France, Spain, and Southeast Asia expert. We caught up with Tina during the stay-at-home order to see what her take on the travel world is and how she is staying productive through this time.
Question: How have you been tackling the constantly changing travel restrictions and staying connected with your clients?
Answer: Well, everything is on a case by case basis. So, we began with clients whose trips were in March since they were having the most immediate issues. I have been reaching out individually to clients as their travel dates draw closer. Our company has sent out emails to clients and I has spoken with several of mine, letting them know that we are here and working on their travel plans.
Q: What have you been doing for fun or to keep yourself from going stir-crazy through quarantine?
A: I have been taking longgg beach walks, watching comedy shows for a little relief, going on hikes, mainly just trying to be outdoors as much as possible (at a safe distance of course). Also staying in touch with family, I have had lots of phone calls and been able to catch up with friends and family from all over.
Q: How do you think the travel world is going to fare through the current coronavirus situation?
A: I think it is going to take a little time but the industry will persevere. People who love to travel are going to continue to, they are not going to stop traveling. I think we will see an increase in trips that are close to home. People will probably want to go to more remote destinations or stay at retreats such as the Ojai Valley Inn, take a trip to Big Sur or Napa Valley. Once people are comfortable again we will see longer, further trips first domestically and then internationally. One of my colleagues Victoria sent an email that sums it up pretty well, "Dreams delayed, not denied."
Q: What do you find is your client’s biggest concern during this time?
A: They want to feel safe. Everyone wants to feel safe. People are unsure of when everything will open back up again. I want to make sure my clients feel safe when taking a trip. I have advised clients to postpone trips so they don't get stuck in a 14-day quarantine. All of this depends on the destination, where the airlines are flying, and what guidelines the local government has put in place. We get a lot of information on the 1st of the month and about halfway through the month as well, normally advising what will be in place for the following 15 - 30 days.
Q: What is the best piece of advice you could tell your clients who are uncertain about traveling?
A: Well I have two. Wait. The closer to the date of your departure, the higher the likelihood of receiving a refund or a better credit. For example, if the airline cancels your flight, normally this happens a week to a couple of weeks out (sometimes only a few days before), you will get a full refund. However, if the traveler is nervous and cancels earlier, they may only receive a credit, with change fees waived. The second one is to take advantage of rebooking credit. So many cruises and tour companies are offering 125% credit if you rebook for the future, even a year out. This also ensures you get to take the trip you wanted to and you may be able to stay longer or upgrade.
Q: What has been hardest for you as a travel advisor dealing with the impact of COVID-19 on the travel industry?
A: We are all in this together, it's the whole world this time just in different time frames. As advisors, we've been dealing with the impact since it began in China. It affected us before having an impact on us at home. One good thing is that the oceans are healing, the waters are clear and the environment is having a positive impact. When this is over people won't take the simple things for granted.
Q: What is your favorite recipe that you have made?
A: I've made cauliflower pizza crust, I gave deviled eggs as Easter presents to friends and family, and keto pancakes. But my favorite dish was halibut steaks with a lemon garlic sauce that my brother and I made. One of my clients caught the fish and dropped it off fresh for us that day! I am also looking forward to making this Spanish tortilla from Backroads!
Q: What is your favorite destination?
A: It's a toss-up, that's too hard to decide. Costa Rica, Italy and Tahiti... but I haven't been to Africa yet. I keep going back to those three places and experiencing the countries in new ways each time.
Q: Where do you want to go next?
A: Italy! I had a birthday trip planned to Ireland and Italy this summer. Unfortunately, we had to postpone, but I'm glad we will be safe. My brother, mother and I were/are going to stay at The Lodge at Ashford Castle in Ireland for his birthday. Following this would be a stay at the Montestigliano Luxury Farmhouse Villa right outside of Siena, Italy with a group of my girlfriends. I don't mind waiting because I want it to be the same as I imagined, pizza making classes and wine tastings with a great group of people.
Q: Why have you been an advisor at Santa Barbara Travel for over two decades?
A: The passion for travel, I love it. I love that Santa Barbara Travel is a privately-owned luxury travel agency, I wouldn't want to work for a corporation. We have lots of interaction with each other as well as the owners. I love my clients; my clients are truly why I enjoy the business. It's rewarding to be able to create lasting memories and help make people's dreams come true. This is why I specialize in honeymoons, anniversaries and monumental vacations. I also get to organize Make-a-Wish trips which is such a great honor. I enjoy being able to send people to places that are so different from our homes, where they can experience the world and other cultures and be aware of the environment. It's a great feeling to be able to spread that joy.
Want to talk to Tina?
Email her at: firstname.lastname@example.org or call (805) 869-1112