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Travel agencies may never recoup losses during pandemic

“I’ve never seen anything like this."
Posted at 4:58 PM, Apr 23, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-24 00:22:36-04

Travel agencies are middle men to your guided trips around the country, and around the world. However, with travel basically out of picture during this pandemic, where does this leave the agencies? MTN spoke with two Montana travel agencies to discuss their business.

“Trying to manage, canceling, rescheduling trips, on top of being very frustrated as the policies change almost daily are resulting in me wanting to burst into tears or scream quite a few times,” says Shannon Welnel, a Franchise Owner of Cruise Planners.

“I’ve never seen anything like this. We’re really struggling. Basically our industry just stopped,” says Darcy Lard, President of Flathead Travel Service.

These two businesses combined, lost close to $5 million in sales within the last two months. Hundreds of trips scheduled as far as 2021 had to be canceled, refunded, credited, or even revised for safety precautions.

“It’s definitely been a few sleepless nights, and the airlines are saying two to three years to recoup and I don't think that's an unreasonable number. I’m think we’re looking at least several years to recoup our losses,” says Lard.

“I don’t know if I’ll ever completely recoup the losses I’ve suffered, because I don’t charge for my services. I work strictly commission-based on the trips I book for clients. I only get paid if they travel, but that’s O.K. I have my health, my family is healthy, I love my job and I’ll get to travel personally soon. I have to try to look on the bright side,” says Welnel.

“The manner in which we travel will look a little different but that’s what we’re here for, to help protect you before, during, and after the trip,” says Lard.