Calm thinking and stoicism is what’s needed during the ‘panpanic’ says VIVID Travel’s Kane Pirie

For some people, there are worse problems than coronavirus. Several friends I know have ongoing medical issues statistically more likely to curtail their life than coronavirus and yet they remain defiant. Even closer to heart, I remember my dad in 2016 as he looked death in the eye. We had a conversation about how well my daughter’s health had recovered and he was delighted for her.

And what about plastic in the ocean or climate change? Remember bored of Brexit? I’m SOTP. Sick Of The Panicking.

SOTP is in fact making me ill. I am sick to the back teeth of the ‘panpanic’ coronavirus has triggered. It’s time to take a collective breath and get a grip. The pandemic will run its course, slowed in most countries to help the health systems cope, before a vaccine blows it into history later this year.

The panpanic has the capacity to be even more serious and destructive. I am not insensitive to the unfolding tragedy and the thousands of tragedies within it. But it follows that now is not the time for everyone to panic and try to change the rules of business to suit themselves. Obviously, that is not going to work.

Don’t panic

To the suppliers which owe refunds: pay them. To the suppliers now asking for early payment: no. To the tour operators which owe customers refunds: pay them or agree with your customers when you will pay them. To the government: for God’s sake, speak up and reassure us you will uphold the rule of law including the Package Travel Regulations, but with an extended period for tour operators to repay customers as we get the money flowing again.

Further, nationalise the airlines so they can make the refunds due back to tour operators. The operational gearing of airlines in the modern, unpredictable world is way too risky. Airlines are always going pop and much of the regulation in the travel industry is convoluted and overly contrived to counter the risks to consumers when airlines fail, including repatriation. I’ve never understood why travel retailers have to cover those costs through the Atol scheme while airlines fly-by, not chipping in a dime. To customers: Atol protection has to mean what is says on the tin and you will get your money back. Don’t panic!

Loss of trust

My SOTP is getting worse and in a desperate bid to retain the last vestiges of my own sanity, I am declaring independence. VIVID Travel will be steadfast and simply continue to play by the rules of the game (also known as the law) including customer cash refunds and supplier payments whatever carnage the rest of you rush into. I expect this will intensify the flak I have been taking recently from industry peers (sorry for not breaking the law) but that is immaterial.

What is at stake here is much bigger than any one company or individual. So, I am firing up the distress flare for the travel industry. It isn’t too late, yet, but we are close to the edge. The risk is not coronavirus but the panpanic and the emerging loss of trust.

The vaccine for that is calm thinking and 10mg of stoicism, twice daily.