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Those who question the value of using a travel advisor need look no further than Ashley Morris of Alpaca Your Bags Travel in Warrensburg, Mo.
During a resort tour in Los Cabos earlier this week, Morris found herself standing off to the side of the group with an AirPod in her ear while texting on her cellphone.
“I’m in Mexico ... and we have clients departing for Jamaica in less than 48 hours. Jamaica requires travelers to be preauthorized with a health visa before travel,” she wrote on her Facebook page. “The health visa requires a very specific COVID test from a specific list of accredited labs. Our groom’s health visa was approved, but our bride’s was declined. This was strange because they submitted the exact same results from the same lab, tested on the same day.”
“When I first heard from my bride that her Jamaica authorization was declined, my first contacts were the Jamaica Tourist Board (JTB) and the resort, Couples Swept Away,” Morris said later in an interview. “Together, we researched what happened and identified some possible solutions. I also enlisted the help of trusted advisor colleagues. I truly believe in ‘community over competition’ and believe that we are all stronger when we work together. These are challenging times, but we can survive if we help each other.”
Andrea Chase, who works in inside sales for the JTB, was able to contact the Jamaica Ministry of Tourism to escalate the request to have the bride’s application reviewed. “Within 90 minutes, the bride was approved and feeling much better,” Morris said.
“This was a wedding that was originally scheduled for April [that] we postponed/rebooked for October,” she said. “In total, I’ve been working with these clients for almost two years from the original consultation – it has been a journey of ups and downs!”
Her clients were nothing if not grateful. “At many points during this process, both the bride and her mother sent me lovely thank you notes and testimonials,” Morris said. “I’m happy to help – this is why they hired me!
Morris said her agency, which specializes in weddings and groups, is selective about the clients it works with in order to provide high-touch service.
“This year alone, I have rescheduled or canceled 24 weddings or groups. I am proud to say that the vast majority of those were postponements or reschedules,” she said. “I came to travel after having a less-than-ideal experience planning my own destination wedding. I loved the idea of being a travel advisor but wanted to make my agency modern, tech savvy and fun. With a business name like mine, people typically see that it’s not a ‘traditional’ agency.”
The recent trip to Cabo was Morris’ fourth since June. “It is important for me to be traveling during this time so I can show clients what the new protocols are like,” she said.
“The ever-changing rules of COVID have highlighted the importance of a professional advisor more than ever. This is the power of using a pro to plan your trips!”