“It has been a crazy couple of weeks,” travel advisor Carrie Anne Gillespie tells Travelweek.
“Unfortunately, we did not have a heads up that this major cancellation was happening. There had been a lot of issues with delays but we never would’ve guessed they would’ve done this,” she says from her Regina agency.
Gillespie’s clients who were in-destination are now home, and she’s assisting them with submitting claims. Sunwing’s recovery flights wrapped up last week. Passengers who were affected by the delays can submit a claim for compensation or a refund.
However, “for those clients that had their vacations cancelled, it has been hard and at times impossible to rebook,” says Gillespie.
Plus, she adds, “as agents, this is a financial loss we will not be able to recoup so easily. Sunwing is recalling our commissions for their error. Our work has been nonstop. We did our part and had their backs, now is the time Sunwing needs to have ours.”
“THE TRAVEL TRADE EXPECTS AND DEMANDS RETROACTIVE COMMISSION PROTECTION”
Another travel advisor, Jamie Milton, who is co-owner and President of Uniglobe Carefree Travel Group in Saskatoon, voiced her anger and frustration in an open letter to Sunwing Travel Group CEO Stephen Hunter, in the wake of Sunwing’s apology last week to travellers.
“In reaction to your misguided open letter and update on Sunwing travel disruptions, I would like to share some valuable and well-meaning feedback from members of your travel trade ‘partners’,” says Milton in her letter.
“This is all well and good, Mr. Hunter, [but] the travel advisors who make a good percentage of your bookings also worked around the clock, through the holidays and in return, they are having all of their earnings recalled and expected to work for free servicing your customers.
“If your own staff had made these bookings, you would need to pay them to manage the bookings and the cancellations, but somehow, it’s expected that we will offer this service to Sunwing complimentary.
“In addition to our services being complimentary to Sunwing, it is costing agency owners additional funds in staff wages, overtime and gifts of appreciation to our staff, for giving up their irreplaceable family time to assist our mutual customers. Where you lack appreciation for this service, we value it in spades.
“We would really appreciate it, Mr. Hunter, if you could also commit to doing better by the travel trade and regaining our trust. That is going to be just as difficult of an obstacle as regaining your clients’ trust.
“I honestly find your letter condescending and extremely irritating, that the travel trade who has been working so very hard, for so very little, to service your bookings, was not even mentioned in [the] apology.
“I want to make it loud and clear that the travel trade expects and demands retroactive commission protection on cancelled bookings and a retroactive letter of apology for the disruption your decisions caused members of the travel trade.”