Their results came back a day before departure. The groom’s sister was the first to find out that she had tested positive for COVID-19. Shortly after, her boyfriend also tested positive. Within an hour, four other members of the group reported a positive result. The six guests involved were all Kearns customers.
Luckily for all six, Kearns was not only approachable, but also engaging, attentive and, above all, caring. She was in constant contact with the group from the start, guiding and reassuring them when they needed it most.
“I have asked the bride and groom to put themselves and the six affected guests on a WhatsApp thread so that we can share information and follow each other’s situation. This eventually grew to include family members who wanted to stay in touch and play fun games to entertain the six who were in quarantine. Although having many people on the wire made it harder for me to manage the situation, I knew it was important for the group to be able to communicate with each other at all times,” says Kearns.
As the industry well remembers, COVID was rampant in early 2022, and if tour reps had a single symptom, they couldn’t be on property, “which has been a challenge since the pandemic,” explains Kearns. So she directed the bride via video chat to the resort’s tour operator’s office and asked her to scour the books for Sunwing’s contact details. Once they found the correct numbers, they immediately informed Sunwing/Nexus and the resort’s front desk to tell them that the affected guests would not be able to board their airport transfer or take their flight home.
“It ended up being the right thing to do since they weren’t marked as no-shows,” Kearns says. “It also helped me to advocate for a return flight on their behalf, including an airport transfer.”
In another example of anticipation, Kearns had previously asked all guests to download the Sunwing app before their trip. The app’s chat box would potentially serve as an additional direct link to a Sunwing/Nexus representative at destination.
REVIEW RAVE RESORT
According to Kearns, the team at Sandos Playacar were “exceptional”, handling the whole situation with ease, patience and kindness. When the group first received positive test results, the resort allowed them to spend their last night in their rooms, with room service, rather than moving them to its quarantine section, in order to minimize disruption. Additionally, at that time, Sandos Playacar was offering to cover five nights for those who tested positive for COVID-19 during their stay, to help cover the cost of quarantine. All subsequent nights if a guest remains positive will be offered at a special rate.
Kearns’ six sick clients remained a total of 10 days in quarantine.
“From checking in their reserved rooms, to their quarantine rooms, to room service and the care provided for the duration of their stay, the six guests said that if they had to self-quarantine, it was the way to do it!” said Kearns. “The father of the bride even befriended her concierge, who brought all six of them fresh garlic with every meal to cater for their Italian upbringing!”
THE MANULIFE FACTOR
In the weeks leading up to the trip, Kearns had several “what if” conversations with the group, laying out all the possible scenarios in a post-pandemic world.
“If I could have 30 groups like that every year, I would be delighted! she says. “They questioned themselves, but they also listened. And when I said they needed to be covered appropriately for COVID-19, they got on board.
Each of the 17 guests Kearns had booked for the trip purchased Manulife’s COVID-19 endorsement, through a referral card she had sent them. This, she says, has proven extremely beneficial as it has helped pay for airport transfers for sick clients, return flights and extra hotel nights not already covered by Sandos Playacar. Manulife, she says, guided each of them directly through the process.
Not only did Kearns have Sandos Playacar and Manulife in her corner, but she also had the chance to work with her Sunwing representatives in Canada behind the scenes to help manage the situation. As they took care of logistics in Canada, Kearns also asked his group to cover their bases during their stay by contacting Sunwing through multiple platforms – by phone, the Sunwing app chat box and eventually through Sunwing. Cares on the Sunwing website, which is mainly used. to start a claim. She asked each group pairing to start a Sunwing Cares thread, after which they were all finally combined into one thread.
“Between my connections back home and their Sunwing Cares rep, we were able to get everyone home without having to pay out of pocket for their transfer or flights,” says Kearns. “Nonna had a huge lasagna waiting for them when they got home – during a snowstorm, no less!”
Following the trip, with everyone back in Canada and recovering, Kearns had the opportunity to have a one-on-one call with his Sunwing rep. She asked if she had any advice if a similar situation happened again with another client.
“I was thrilled to hear that she told me she wouldn’t change anything I did,” Kearns says. “Was it a headache?” Did I lose sleep? Oh yeah! But it was a fabulous group and they turned a stressful situation into an optimal scenario, and ended up bonding between two families because of it.