Questions & Answers With Joel Ostrov
In this week’s issue of Canadian Travel Press, Direct Travel’s president – Canada East Region, Joel Ostrov talks about the impact of COVID-19 on the Canadian travel business and how Direct Travel is managing its way through the pandemic. Ostrov answers are thoughtful, straightforward and, something everyone needs these days, optimistic about the future of the industry.
Canadian Travel Press (CTP): Maybe you could give me an overview of how Direct Travel has been weathering the COVID-19 storm? How has it impacted the company’s business?
Ostrov: The reality is that business is down about 95% year over year since early March. Ironically, January & February were record months for Direct Travel, both here in Canada and in the USA as well. The months of March and April were spent cancelling millions of dollars-worth of air tickets and travel packages.
CTP: Three months in, can you paint me a picture of the day-to-day activities at Direct Travel? Is staff still working? If they are, what are they working on these days? Has Direct Travel taken advantage of any of the federal/provincial/municipal government programs to help businesses and their employees?
Ostrov: Obviously, with the significantly reduced volume, we have made adjustments in staffing, however, the key as we evaluate our staffing levels is that we don’t impact our customers and our travellers – the true value of a Travel Management Company (TMC) is in tracking and future utilization of the unused tickets, working with the carriers to ensure name changes (due to lay-offs by customers), and maximization of all the waivers the carriers throughout the world have provided. So, we have had to balance rationalizing our costs with ensuring that our customers are able to maximize the benefits the carriers have provided to customers.
For the full story, check out this week’s issue of CANADIAN TRAVEL PRESS.