Skip to main content

Advertisement

Advertisement

Klook gets ‘tens of thousands’ of requests to cancel or postpone staycation, cruise bookings after Covid-19 rules change

SINGAPORE — In the week since the Government put the country on heightened alert to arrest the growing cases of Covid-19 here and quell social interactions and some activities, many would-be vacationers have been scrambling to cancel or postpone their staycation and cruise bookings.

Klook gets ‘tens of thousands’ of requests to cancel or postpone staycation, cruise bookings after Covid-19 rules change

The operating capacity for cruises is reduced to 25 per cent from May 16 to June 13, 2021.

  • Some customers are frustrated by long waits to cancel or change their hotel and cruise bookings 
  • This is after the Government tightened Covid-19 rules to limit social interactions and some activities
  • Booking site Klook said it is working with STB to accelerate the process  
  • However, customers who reached out directly to hotels or cruises did not have to wait as long

 

SINGAPORE — In the week since the Government put the country on heightened alert to arrest the growing cases of Covid-19 here and quell social interactions and some activities, many would-be vacationers have been scrambling to cancel or postpone their staycation and cruise bookings.

Such requests have poured in for one booking site, in particular: Klook. It said that “tens of thousands of bookings” made through the site have been affected by the new public health measures, which run from May 16 to June 13.

It said that it is now “focused on supporting our affected customers and making the necessary arrangements to facilitate the booking or process refunds”. 

“We are also working closely with the Singapore Tourism Board (STB) to accelerate the process and help as many customers and quickly as possible.”

During this period of heightened alert, the operating capacity for cruises is reduced to 25 per cent. For hotels, only two guests are allowed in each room, except where they are all from the same household. Guests are also prohibited from dining at food-and-beverage (F&B) establishments in hotels.  

People who have made bookings for hotel stays and cruises told TODAY that they have had to cancel or postpone their bookings because they had either exceeded the guest limits or they saw no point in going ahead with these restrictions. 

A check on Klook’s Facebook page shows dozens of customers enquiring about the status of their bookings, with some noting that Klook has been unresponsive. 

Other booking platforms such as Trip.com, GlobalTix and Changi Recommends could not provide any figures on the number of booking cancellations when contacted by TODAY. 

Like Klook, these platforms are facilitating STB’s SingapoRediscovers Voucher programme, which was launched last year to prop up the ailing tourism industry here. Every Singaporean aged 18 and above gets S$100 worth of the vouchers that may be used on staycations, attraction tickets and domestic tours.

The deadline to redeem the vouchers have been extended by six months to the end of this year. 

GlobalTix would only say that “some Singaporeans have reached out with the preference to postpone their bookings during this period”. 

“We’re also working closely with attractions and tours in the extension of ticket or tour validity so that guests can still visit at a later date,” it added. 

Trip.com said that it is encouraging its customers to cancel or reschedule their bookings and stay home as much as possible during the next few weeks. 

“Our customer service officers have been prepared to manage an expected surge in calls and emails.”

SLOW TO RESPOND

For at least two people who used Klook, the dates for their hotel or cruise had already gone by and they have yet to hear from the site.

Mr Kevan Chew, 24, had booked a one-night stay on May 18 at the Parkroyal Collection Pickering for his birthday. He had wanted to invite a small group of friends, but could not do so with the stricter limits so he wanted to cancel it.

Mr Chew, who works in consulting, said that two days before his stay, he tried to cancel through Klook by calling its customer service operator, who then said that the booking platform had to contact the hotel to confirm the cancellation.

He did not hear back from Klook even on the day of his hotel stay.

He did not turn up at the hotel in the end.

“It was very frustrating… even if I went, it wouldn’t be a very good experience,” he said. 

It was only the following weekend that Mr Chew was contacted by Klook, which confirmed the cancellation and refunded him. 

This was the same for Mr Jastine Goh, 30, a consultant who had booked a four-day cruise worth S$500 with his wife through Klook. 

The booking for Dream Cruises was for May 16 — the day the heightened alert regulations came into force — but it was only on May 15, less than 24 hours from the departure time, that he got an email from Klook saying that he would be able to postpone his trip. 

He then replied with his preferred postponed dates on the same evening, but he has yet to get a confirmation after more than a week. 

“So basically, until now, I don't know if the cruise has been postponed,” Mr Goh said. 

“They could have reached out directly to the customers who are immediately affected… What if people just showed up? Then (how will the operator decide) who will get to go in?” he asked, referring to the reduced capacity limit of 25 per cent. 

SHORTER WAIT FOR OTHERS

For people who had booked directly with the cruise liners or had reached out to the hotels to enquire about their bookings, they did not have to wait as long to confirm their cancellations. 

Gym trainer Daphne Loo, 38, had booked a cruise with Royal Caribbean and was supposed to set sail with two other friends on May 17. As this was beyond the two-person limit, she spent the weekend before the trip frantically trying to cancel it. 

She tried calling the cruise company’s customer service hotline, but it was busy and she was put on hold for about four hours. Eventually she spoke to a customer care officer, who offered to refund her in credits. 

The call took about 15 minutes but she was just pleased that it was done.

Ms Loo and her friends will wait until they can interact in groups of larger than two to go on the cruise.

When asked, Royal Caribbean said that many guests were initially concerned about what the changes meant.

“The volumes to our call centre were high, but by Monday (May 17), we’d been able to inform most guests who were impacted.”

It added that customers have the option to postpone their trip, receive a future cruise credit or a full refund.

Ms Rachel Cheng, 25, who works in the media industry, had booked a staycation with her niece at the end of this month at a hotel, through online travel agency Booking.com. 

She decided to cancel it in order to stay home during this period when there are more community cases. 

After the agency denied her request to cancel through its website, she called the hotel, which told her at first that she could only postpone the booking, not cancel it. 

“I told (the staff member) it would be much easier if I could just cancel, due to the unpredictability of the situation,” Ms Cheng said.

“Then, she put me on hold and got back to say they could make an exception for me.” 

Hotel operator Accor, with 27 hotels under its brand here, told TODAY that it has seen around 30 per cent of its customers who had reserved rooms from May to June either cancelling or postponing their bookings. 

“In terms of dollar impact, it is still too early to tell but it will be significant,” it said.

Related topics

Covid-19 coronavirus cruise Staycation hotel Klook booking

Read more of the latest in

Advertisement

Popular

Advertisement

Stay in the know. Anytime. Anywhere.

Subscribe to get daily news updates, insights and must reads delivered straight to your inbox.

By clicking subscribe, I agree for my personal data to be used to send me TODAY newsletters, promotional offers and for research and analysis.

Aa