This is why travelers are turning to us during the coronavirus pandemic

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Christopher Elliott

None of this was supposed to happen. Just a month ago, the stock market was soaring to new heights and consumers were losing sleep over how to invest all of the money they were making. Many of our readers were planning long and expensive summer vacations. And then the coronavirus pandemic happened and put an end to that travel planning.

There are almost no words to describe the destruction caused by the virus.

And yet there’s a glimmer of hope this morning. In Wuhan, China, there are no new coronavirus cases. If the virus can be contained, then there’s hope that the situation will improve soon.

What happens to Elliott Advocacy after the coronavirus pandemic?

But what happens to us after the coronavirus pandemic? If by “us” you mean Elliott Advocacy and the volunteers who work here, then I have some more good news: We’re going to make it!

We started our emergency spring fundraiser on Monday. We need to raise $30,000 to keep the lights on until June.

By Wednesday, we had met half our fundraising goal. I’m very, very grateful to all the readers who responded to our call to save this site.

But we still need your help. If you haven’t already done so, please consider becoming a financial supporter of this site now. Here’s how.

What happens to the travel industry after the coronavirus pandemic?

Since we deal with a lot of travel topics on this site, many of you have asked what will happen to the travel industry.

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I’ve been a consumer reporter during the worst crises the world has faced until now. That includes 9/11 and the Great Recession of 2008. I can tell you that the coronavirus is worse than all of those put together.

But there are opportunities to do good. Last night, I helped a coalition of consumer groups draft a letter to congressional leaders about the proposed airline bailout. After years of customer-hostile policies and corporate greed, there’s a chance to improve air travel for everyone. I believe the travel industry will survive, as I noted in yesterday’s Forbes column.

But I think the companies that make it will have to act more responsibly and treat their customers better than they have in the past. Hitting someone with a $500 change fee for the “missed opportunity” cost is as outrageous as charging a family to sit together on a plane. It’s as outrageous as squeezing you into a small seat and telling you to be grateful for the low airfare.

Everything will change in travel, but I believe it will be for the better.

If you want to support our efforts to create a more fair travel industry, please consider becoming a financial supporter of this site now.

What happens to you after the coronavirus pandemic?

I’m more concerned about you. I’ve heard from so many of you in the last few days. Your stories are heartbreaking. I’ve spoken with people who had to cancel business trips, family reunions and vacations and were struggling to get a refund. I’ve been in touch with readers who spent hours on the phone trying to reach someone at a business, only to be hung up on.

Despair has infected the world faster than any pandemic could.

If you’re looking for someone to talk to, please jump into our help forums and tell us how you’re doing. We’re good listeners. If you have a consumer problem, our amazing advocates might be able to help you. But at a time like this, we’re also here to listen to you.

If there’s one thing I know about you, it’s that you are strong and resilient. Our readers do not go quietly. They don’t accept their fate. You are fighting to see a better day, as are we.

And yes, it’s true that we almost ran out of money to pay our bills. But we fought, and we are going to raise the funds to continue. We’re just $13,000 away from being able to stay afloat until June, thanks to you.

We’re not out of danger yet! Here’s how to become an underwriter of this site now and help us continue the advocacy.

So now what?

Even though the events of the last two weeks have caused many of us to despair, we know there’s a better future for us. The economy will recover. Businesses will be back, and they will be more customer-focused and customer-friendly than ever. How could they not be?

Better days are ahead.

How do I know? Because during the darkest time of this crisis, we held a fundraiser and you responded with optimism and generosity. I know that that sense of optimism and generosity will power our recovery. It has already started.

Thank you for your support.

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Christopher Elliott

Christopher Elliott is the founder of Elliott Advocacy, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that empowers consumers to solve their problems and helps those who can't. He's the author of numerous books on consumer advocacy and writes weekly columns for King Features Syndicate, USA Today, Forbes and the Washington Post. He also publishes Elliott Confidential, a critically acclaimed newsletter about customer service. If you have a consumer problem you can't solve, contact him directly through his advocacy website. You can also follow him on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn, or sign up for his daily newsletter. Read more of Christopher's articles here.

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