It’s now just under 12 weeks until we will be starting our seminar in Vanuatu- that’s very exciting! The COVID pandemic has restricted our travel for some time- in a travel sense we are all victims of "long COVID"!! Because of this, we are really looking forward to relaxing and learning in a such a wonderful setting in Vanuatu. The seminar “Creating a Thriving Workplace” is coming together nicely with a well-credentialed speaker, an excellent program and we are delighted to have this seminar locked in and ready to proceed.
Obviously, we have also been looking ahead to 2023, whilst also booking some other international adventures of our own. This has been quite an eye-opener in terms of how the travel landscape has changed because of the pandemic. There are numerous factors that make planning group travel a lot more difficult in this "post-pandemic" time:
International flights are less frequent and more expensive. Whilst there may be some good deals to have if you are prepared to be very flexible, booking in advance doesn’t equate to the pre-pandemic “early-bird” discounts that were once on offer. Long haul flights can be particularly expensive.
Connections can be difficult. With many airlines not returning to their pre-pandemic flight schedules yet, the ability to get to some destinations can involve many flights at less-than-ideal times, or with long layovers, if they available at all!!
The airline industry scaled back so much during the pandemic that they are now struggling to meet demand with baggage services and ground staff, meaning lengthy delays and queues in airports. There may be some angst about whether the luggage actually arrives on time, or at all!
There are also a lot of flight cancellations with ongoing staff shortages due to illness that is affecting all aspects of our current daily lives.
Cruising was making a bit of a comeback, and then the recent Coral Princess saga reminded people that close co-habitation with a boat load of strangers may still not be a great option.
Any travel within a tour (particularly for a group) might be problematic if anyone was to test positive to COVID during the tour. They would have to be left behind and try to re-join the group seven days later! That would be awful, but somewhat disastrous if that unlucky person was the keynote speaker!!!
Travel insurance can also be tricky to negotiate. Many policies are somewhat COVID-friendly on the surface but rely on Smart Traveller ratings of the risk at your proposed destination. If that risk rating increases, your travel insurance may not cover you.
For all of the above reasons, we are incredibly pleased with our choice of Vanuatu and the Eratap Beach Resort- a resort we know well. The seminar group is small, and the resort will support physical distancing as much of the seminar and dining will be open-air. The resort is run by a couple from Sydney who have understand COVID-safety well. Vanuatu is also only a short flight away and Smart Traveller have identified it as “Level 2”, which is acceptable to travel insurance companies. Being a relative, we also know that we can strongly advise the keynote speaker to reduce her community exposure for the week prior to our departure 😊
We know the StuVac family are usually a fairly nomadic bunch but many people remain a little nervous to lock in any international travel. We hope we can resume trips like those in the ‘good old days’, but it may be some time away and trips may never offer the same flexibility we once had, which is heartbreaking for us to admit.
We are always looking at options and hope to put something together for 2023 but we are keen to see how we go in October first. We look forward to sharing that experience with you and thank those that are attending and making it possible.
Where would you feel happy to travel and seminar in 2023? Feel free to shoot through any suggestions with the above factors in mind.