Stress has no place in travel

On behalf of our entire team in Bahrain, Dubai and offices across Europe and Asia, here’s to a year of fulfilment and success – wish you our reader, and partners in the travel industry, a fantastic 2017.

As we start on page one of a brand-new year, let us delve into that part of travel that comes as a ‘part and parcel’ of every itinerary – the t-word: tension. Or Stress. When one travels on business, there is stress that flights connect on time so your all-important meeting stays on track, the luggage with that important suit comes in fine, your health holds up just fine. On personal travel schedules, all these aspects are relevant in varying degrees – need for flights connecting on time, personal effects staying safe, and then the factor of health and medical support when needed.

As a travel consultant, one is expected to direct, guide, oversee and advise customers against anything that can come in the way of a great travel outing, be it business or otherwise. It is this trust built over time after all that is the most important currency in our business. So how are we doing in taking the tension out of travel?

Recently Nexus Group, the region’s largest independent financial advisor, pointed to a gap in the market. It appears that less than 1 per cent of customers in the UAE are covered by a comprehensive travel insurance plan. The number is even smaller when we consider the region. We need to be better advised that the basic coverage provided by certain credit cards, banks or third-party providers to tick boxes for visa applications are not exactly stress-reducers – they are at best, deferring the stress to another time. In most cases, these basic packages will not come handy should there be a major claim. A bank policy, for example, may offer $250,000 worth of coverage, which may seem like a lot, but in actual terms, it may not be enough for emergency medical care in a country where healthcare services are very expensive, think USA.

Last month, in the lead up to ILTM, Cannes, I was spending some time in Greece with my infant daughter, Mia. The little girl developed rashes overnight, it looked scary. I remember being concerned over her medical needs at that time, but as a result of having a good global insurance coverage, I knew that the best quality of treatment is within reach whenever we need medical attention. The tension bit was chipped off our travel itinerary, thanks to the coverage.

Another time, when our luggage was delayed by 12 hours on our connection from Amsterdam to Nice, our insurer took care of critical needs, including supplements and hygiene products. If staying unrattled throughout travel tours is the idea, then it is imperative to be backed by a good travel insurance that takes care of medical and essential needs.

So, how much does it cost to get covered? The options are many, from annual coverage to single trip (term coverage), from individual coverage to full family. A quick estimate for worldwide term coverage, including the US and Canada, can range between Dh100 ($27) for five days to Dh550 ($150) for 92 days. A more cost-effective option for frequent travelers is annual coverage that takes care of multiple trips, and can cost between Dh600 ($162) and Dh900 ($243).

You would, as consultants, have more information, about inbound coverage for visitors travelling to the region. The question is how much are we doing to educate and advise travellers on the need to eliminate tension from travel?

By Rashi Sen