In this transitional year, as we begin to return to normal, many of you have expressed interest in hearing what Brand g’s owners think about how this year will play out, and how Covid has affected travel.
Brian and Jeff have a combined 40+ years in the travel business and have weathered other travel “storms” – albeit none quite as challenging as Covid – so their perspective is a valuable one. Read on to discover what they foresee going forward.
- Eric Poole, Director of Marketing
How has Brand g approached the planning for trips in 2021?
As many of you know, we normally plan and start selling our trips 18 – 24 months ahead of time. So, we already had all of our 2021 programs in place when the pandemic hit in March of 2020. We’ve already proactively postponed some 2021 programs, which we thought were too early in the year (not enough people would be vaccinated) and will do so with other 2021 programs, if necessary. The comfort and safety of our guests is paramount.
How does the 2021 Brand g trip calendar look compared to how 2019 ended up?
We’ve had fairly explosive growth over the past five years, but given the fact that 2020 trips had to be rescheduled, we actually have more programs on our calendar than we did in 2019. We’re optimistic that we’ll be able to operate the majority of them, even if with slightly reduced numbers in some cases. However, we realize that much of this is dependent on our guests getting vaccinated or getting the pandemic under control.
Where are the geographical places Brand g is focusing on this year, and why?
Most of our focus in the near term is within Europe, as well as Japan. We feel that most European countries will recover from the pandemic more quickly, as they’ll have greater access to the vaccines. And countries like Japan (along with South Korea, Taiwan, etc) have managed the pandemic far better and should also be ready to accept visitors. We also feel that, through the first two or three quarters of 2021, our guests will be much more comfortable traveling to the more advanced countries with better access to healthcare. In the final quarter, we plan to visit more far-flung locations such as Vietnam and Cambodia, Peru and South Africa.
What do you think will be the more popular types of trips for LGBTQ travelers this year?
We think it’ll be the kinds that are staples of Brand g’s offerings: those with fewer numbers of people, such as river cruises and smaller land tours. They will likely feel safer in these environments where there is greater opportunity for social distancing and more ability to control health and safety protocols.
What kind of considerations is Brand g giving travelers for cancellation issues that may arise?
We have implemented more relaxed deposit and cancellation for all 2021 trips. Our “Book With Confidence” policy delays the final payment from our normal 120 days prior to departure to 90 days prior; and in the case of spring/early summer trips, we may bring that even closer, to just 60 days. Guests can cancel up to that date for a nominal fee of $100 per person. Of course, if we’re forced to cancel their trip due to the pandemic, guests can transfer their deposits to a future departure with no penalty.
What do you think LGBTQ travelers are looking for in travel now? Has Covid changed people’s outlook on travel?
It is abundantly clear that our guests are chomping at the bit to get out and travel. They’re just waiting for the time to be right. Once they feel that the pandemic is under control, they’ll travel the globe as much as they ever have. But we think that for years to come, there will be a greater emphasis on both more relaxed booking policies and on companies that take their health and well-being seriously.