Carolyn Harvey, owner of Caribella Travel, speaks on her experience as a travel advisor who found her passion for travel at a young age.
DALLAS – Deciding to open your own travel agency may sound like a large feat, but when your philosophy is “if you want something done right, you do it yourself,” that isn’t the case. It definitely wasn’t the case when Carolyn Harvey, 49, decided to start Caribella Travel a decade ago.
A local traveler provides insight into her decision to go on a vacation to Aruba in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.
DALLAS – A week before her vacation to Aruba in the middle of a global pandemic, Lisa began her research into Aruba’s travel guidelines and requirements. She discovered she’d need to submit a negative COVID test within 72 hours of her departure date of Oct. 24 and immediately scheduled an appointment at a local testing center for Oct. 20.
After months of seldom leaving her house despite grocery shopping and dining outdoors, Lisa was ready to “get back out there and live.” She’d wear a mask and practice social distancing, so she felt she was being as responsible as she could be.
“With the ‘new normal’ of heightened travel safety and cleanliness protocols, it is very important that our visitors and the Aruban people work together to make sure we ‘do it right,’” Lisa read from the Aruba Travel website.
To ensure she didn’t miss any important requirements, Lisa Levitt, 50, consulted her travel agent, Carolyn Harvey, who just so happened to be her lifelong friend and invited her to travel to Aruba with her. “It gave me more peace of mind working with a travel agent when planning my vacation during the pandemic,” Lisa said. “There’s so much you just don’t think of on your own.”
The travel industry has been majorly impacted since the start of the pandemic, so travelers and travel agents are working closely now more than ever before to ensure safe travel and the industry’s recovery.
The airport’s central location within Dallas and about four miles from SMU makes it a popular place for the SMU community to travel.
Airport satisfaction has risen sharply since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, with Love Field ranking highest among large airports with a score of 844 (on a 1,000-point scale), according to J.D. Power’s 2020 North America Airport Satisfaction Study released in September.
“In its category (airports that serve 15-25 million passengers yearly), DAL did very well in airport access, check in, facilities, food, beverage and retail, and bag claim,” said Michael Taylor, J.D. Power spokesperson. “Hopefully, considering our data, the SMU community will recognize what other passengers and airport reports have recognized; Love Field is one of the best airports in North America and a pleasant place to fly in and out of.”
Now in its 15th year, the study serves as a benchmark and measures overall traveler satisfaction within 30 days of passengers’ travel.
The other organization that honored Love Field, ACI, inducted the airport into its ASQ program, a subscription model that surveys passengers while at the airport about airport services, perceptions and priorities compared to other airports around the world.
Its role is to be a comprehensive business tool for airports, offering detailed analysis into various aspects of the passenger experience.
Since the ACI World’s 2020 Customer Experience Global Summit was canceled due to the pandemic, ASQ winners will be recognized virtually for both its ASQ Award and Roll of Excellence honor during ASQ Customer Experience Week beginning Oct. 26, according to an airport press release.
“Our program evaluates every part of the passenger journey,” said David Whitely, ACI vice president for marketing and communications. “We not only celebrate airports and offer them a competitive edge in an increasingly sophisticated industry, but demonstrate to passengers how airports adapt to the times, address passengers’ concerns and offer experiences to its customers.”
Employee satisfaction is another key objective in both reports.
“Southwest [Airlines] is known for its hub at Love Field and reflects its can-do attitude, convenience and attention to every traveler onto the airport,” said Southwest customer service representative, Sean Dennis.
The COVID-19 pandemic has brought the global airport industry to a standstill with an estimated reduction in passenger traffic of 5.6 billion, according to an ACI media release.
Despite this 76 percent nationwide reduction in passenger traffic since March 1, which financially devastated many airports, customer satisfaction has improved, as those still flying enjoy less crowded terminals and see airports taking special interest in passenger perceptions and prioritization of hygiene, according to a J.D. Power media release.
This is especially true for Dallas Love Field. The airport has demonstrated significant efforts in gathering passenger feedback to help better understand customers during the pandemic, said Chris Perry, Love Field communications and marketing manager.
“Our customers have shown time and time again that they appreciate our proactive responses,” Perry said. “That shows in our receiving of these honors and our ASQ overall satisfaction score of 4.48 out of 5 at the end of this year’s first quarter.”
The airport served nearly 17 million passengers in 2019, the most in its history, and already more than 5 million passengers this year, despite the pandemic, according to a Love Field total passengers report for August.
“We hope the SMU community continues making Dallas Love Field its airport of choice,” Perry said. “With our location, ease of use and seamless travel experience – one ticketing wing, one security checkpoint, one baggage claim – we have everything that busy SMU students and faculty could hope for in an airport.”