Posts Tagged ‘vacation’

OTA’s COVID-19 Failure Highlights Value of Working With a Travel Advisor

Reference: Travelpulse Brian Major March 20, 2020

The COVID-19 related failure of prominent OTA illustrates the value of working with a travel advisor, as dozens if not hundreds of travelers have this week found themselves stranded in international destinations and facing unanswered queries of future booked travel representing hundreds of thousands of dollars.

The OTA, whose proprietary software allowed travelers to select destinations and travel packages based on the traveler’s region of origin, shut down unexpectedly on March 17, devastated by cancellations generated by the spreading virus.

Travel agent handing tickets to clientsPHOTO: Travel agent handing tickets to clients. (Photo via Getty Images Plus / iStock / vadimguzhva)

A statement on the company’s website reads: “ has paused normal operations, and the international destinations we service have closed their borders to arrivals. Due to the nature of this unprecedented pandemic, we have had to close our call centers in Florida, Jamaica, and El Salvador. This, effectively, means that we will be unable to provide agent assistance in canceling any upcoming trips.”

The statement continues: “BookIt is in the process of canceling all upcoming travel between now and June 30, 2020, for international travel. Your resort booking will be canceled automatically. As we are currently unable to process refunds to you, please contact your bank for options available to you as a cardholder. If you wish to reschedule your stay to a later date, please do so directly with your selected resort.”

In a March 17 letter to hotel partners, CEO Bud Finlaw said “Since Monday of last week, we have experienced a tsunami of cancellations. Over the weekend and through today, our cancellations have exceeded new sales, and dramatically so,” he said.

“Obviously, this is an untenable situation. Despite great efforts from our Exec Team [sic] to find a path to continue with business as usual, we have now determined that the best option is to suspend regular operations until this crisis passes.”

The company’s next decision is particularly damaging to travelers: “This cut will affect our ability to service your resort as we would normally do. And, as a result, we do not plan on making payments for arriving guests who do not cancel their stay.”

The move left hundreds if not thousands of travelers in untenable situations, as many guests found their resort payments were not made, with resorts demanding full payments from departing guests.

The last post on the OTA’s Instagram page is littered with appeals from travelers desperate to cancel upcoming bookings or resolve resort payments on current travel that were not made. A post from @meghanhays7 reads, “ I have a trip in 5 days! With the outbreak I need to cancel and cannot get ahold of anyone. I have called 30 times. My ID is 50617917! Please help!!!”

Another poster, @nhmtnx, writes “Soo I’ve tried to call multiple times and all the different numbers available none of the numbers are working! I had no issues checking out of the hotel yesterday, but my friend and her husband are stuck! The hotel is telling them they can’t leave until BOTH rooms are paid in full at FULL PRICE!!!! Like can someone help!!!”

Travelers weren’t the only ones harmed by the OTA’s overnight shutdown. Workers at the company’s Florida office reported they were terminated without notice or warning.

In his letter to resort partners, Finlaw added, “As we ride out this storm, we understand that you, too, will be facing the same difficulties. We realize that you must make your own business decisions as to arriving guests.”

In a Facebook posting, Tom Varghese, owner of Travel Tom, posted screenshots of complaints from consumers left high and dry by the OTA’s failure, warning travelers and colleagues. “A major OTA is going under. And they are leaving all their clients high and dry,” he said.

Varghese warned followers to check any reservations and offered to assist re-booking clients. “The CEO basically told the hotel partners that they will not be paying the resorts and will be keeping the client’s money, so, clients will have to pay again when they arrive or will be turned away. Unbelievable!”

Varghese added, “Many folks book on online websites because there is a perception that it is cheaper or faster, which most of the time is no longer the case when you work with a qualified travel consultant that understands you and your requirements.

“We all go to our favorite barber or hairstylist, not because they are the cheapest but we know that we trust them and they will take care of us. Why would you do any differently for a multi-thousand dollar experience for you and your family?”

Nadia Sparkle, owner of Travel by Sparkle, also warned travelers and colleagues via Facebook: “They have tons of clients currently in destinations and are not able to leave the hotel/resort because failed to pay them,” she said.

“This is one of the reasons I am selective about who I work within the travel industry. I’ve heard so many people say, ‘Why use a travel agent when I can book online myself?’ Yes, you can, but who’s your advocate in a situation like this?”


Why you should work with a Travel Advisor


by Jenne Lajiun. Posted on December 5, 2012, Wednesday

Alexandra and Simon during the interview.

KOTA KINABALU: Sipadan is still the same as it was in 1988, when world famous French underwater explorer and filmmaker Jacques-Yves Cousteau made his remark, “I have seen other places like Sipadan 45 years ago, but now no more. Now we have found an untouched piece of art.”

Making this claim recently was none other than the late explorer’s own granddaughter, Alexandra Cousteau, who is now attached with the National Geographic as an explorer.

“We watched his film with the crew and it was really interesting. We were comparing how it was in 1988 to how it was now. The abundance looked to be the same and we dove on the same spots. He has written so much about it in his books – in so many other parts of the world, things have changed,” said Alexandra, who was in Sabah to explore and make a short documentary for the National Geography on the beauty of islands in Malaysia with the Scuba Zoo.

“This was in 1988 which was 25 years ago. It is still the same (now) as it was then, the abundance is still as it was then. And we have lost so many since then. It is indeed the most beautiful places I have been. It is 10 out of 10. It is really a revelation. In Sipadan I have never seen so many healthy corals, so many turtles, so many fishes,” she said.

Alexandra mentioned that she first learned how to dive under the guidance of her late grandfather in a diving spot at the southern of France when she was seven years old.

“So much is gone. The Caribbean is almost gone. You have a real treasure. I hope to come back one day with my daughter so that she can dive here like my grandfather did,” she said.

“So many things in Sipadan are extinct like in other parts of the world – it is a real treasure,” she said.

She then mentioned of the conservation effort that were being undertaken in Sipadan — the turtle sanctuary and the shark sanctuary.

“One hundred million sharks are fished and finned every year so it makes sense to have the sanctuary. It may be (one day) the last place in the world that has sharks. A live shark is not only important to the environment but also to the communities around.”

Meanwhile, Scuba Zoo founder and chief executive officer Simon Christopher explained the importance of maintaining the ecological balance in the sea and mentioned why sharks had to be conserved.

“Without sharks, the weak and old will not be predated. There would be massive overgrazing and soon, there will be a desert,” he said.

And having predators in the sea is also a crowd puller and makes perfect sense in the context of touristic attraction.

“If you have no more predators, no one will come,” he said, simply.

He emphasised that a framework needs to be put in place to protect sharks species in Sabah and that various issues related to awareness and controlled fisheries need to be addressed.

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Big Phang Nga Adventure onboard of the unique chinese vessel

Take a break take your family / friends and enjoy the 4 days / 3 nights cruise around the famous Phang Nga Bay on board of the unique chinese junk style vessel “Suwan Macha”


Escape with your family for an exciting 4 days cruise

Special Winter Package incl.Join the Suwan Macha on one of her unique trips

The best time to visit Thailand’s southern coast is between November and February.  This January South East Asia Dreams is proud to celebrate the New Year and invite our guests on board of the lovely Suwan Macha.

Accomandation for 1 pax in Twin share Cabin : 32.250THB only 24.188 THB
Accomandation for 1 pax in Twin share Cabin : 42.400THB only 31.800THB

Cruise Schedule departure from Port in Phuket:

Departure : 02.00 pm (14.00) Departure : 07.15 am (07.15)
05th of January 2013 08th of January 2013
19th of January 2013 22nd of January 2013
26th of January 2013 29th of January 2013


More trips available, just contact us for more detail. Departure is always on Saturdays or Tuesdays and the maximum of passengers are 10 persons in 5 comfortable cabins.

Note: For safety reasons and according to weather conditions, the program may be amended without prior notice.


Feel the history on board of Suwan Macha while cruising along the Phang Nga Bay, Phi Phi Island and Krabe

Package Includes:

* Join-in roundtrip transfer between Hotel – pier – Hotel in air conditioned van
* English speaking service and services of qualified crew during the cruise
* 4 days cruise with stops and visits as metioned in program without guide
* 3 overnights on join-in basis in twin or duble sharing cabin.
* 2 lunches on board and 1 lunch on Phi Phi Island
* 3 dinner on board
* Coffee, tea & drinking water on board and during meals
* Admission fee and Entrance fees, Insurance (Thai standard)

Booking is subject to availability. Special offers cannot be combined. Additional land arrangement is excluded.

Interesting? Click here for more detailed information

We are looking forward to welcome you on board




Cruisng to Colonial Time alone the Mekong River

*Terms and conditons applied

For more information, please contact us directy: South East Asia Dreams


Sipadan & Mabul Special November & December 2012

Buy 5 days 4 nights, pay only 3.½ nights.

Take this opportunity and discover one of the best dive sites around Mabul & Sipadan Island.

Stay for 4 nights at Borneo Divers Mabul Resort &  pay only 3 ½ nights.

Limited to 10 rooms per day, on a first come first serve basis.

Terms & Conditions:-

◦Travel period: 01st. of November to  21st of December 2012

◦Upon availability of spaces

◦First come, first serve


Hurry up and make your reservation before rooms run out!


Visit the top one dievsite worldwide   


For further information, please contact us at