LONDON — As destinations work overtime to ramp up PCR testing facilities, and travellers scramble to confirm in-destination testing sites, a crucial link to help streamline the process is often overlooked: the travel trade.
A company called Chronomics is looking to change that, with help from a familiar name and face here in Canada.
Tim Morgan, well-known to the industry from his time with TPI, Virtuoso and others, assisted Chronomics with consultation on its global travel trade strategy.
Chronomics is looking to connect with travel retailers and suppliers who want to help facilitate their clients’ travel to the UK amid the pandemic.
Chronomics is introducing commercial partnerships for wholesale and retail partners engaged in the sale of its UK government-authorized COVID-19 PCR tests for travellers arriving in and departing from the UK.
Best of all, there are commission opportunities.
Morgan tells Travelweek that as far as he can tell, Chronomics is the only company providing a blanket at-source commission to travel advisors for the sale of PCR tests to clients.
“Chronomics is not aware of any other testing companies offering commissionable tests to any and all travel agencies and advisors who have clients arriving in/returning from the UK,” says Morgan.
Says Morgan: “At present, a Canadian travel advisor would need to inquire with each potential testing partner (currently there are 107 of them in the UK alone) to determine if they’re offering commercial agreements for the travel trade. Chronomics is trying to simplify that by proactively letting the industry know it understands the importance of the travel trade’s work in helping people who must travel, to do so safely. Chronomics is also encouraging other testing partners to create widespread agreements for the travel trade as a critical component of helping traveller safety.”
Travel agents, and wholesalers, are a big part of the company’s strategy.
Says Dr. Tom Stubbs, CEO of Chronomics: “In our efforts working with government on opening up travel responsibly, we very quickly realized that the travel trade is an integral part of helping travellers who must travel to do so safely, similarly to the importance of travel insurance in every itinerary.”
Stubbs says Chronomics currently processes thousands of PCR tests every day for clients across Europe and is one of the only providers whose product allows self-administered, at-home/at-hotel, saliva-based testing in the UK government’s official “Test to Release for International Travel’ program.
Additionally, he says, Chronomics is the only testing provider offering commercial partnerships to the travel trade on a global basis.
“If a travel wholesaler or retailer is sending clients to or from the UK and they require testing, we want to be their trusted partner as they spend their valuable time and resources helping their clients travel safely,” says Stubbs.
Chronomics is also in discussions with similar COVID testing firms in major markets to assist the travel trade in having a network of trusted partners for their clients.
Here’s more information about how the process works …
Q. So a travel agent can pre-package and sell a PCR test for their client travelling to the UK, is that correct?
A. Canadians can purchase this prior to travel (i.e. their advisor can purchase it on their behalf as part of their itinerary prior to travel). Their test can meet them upon arrival in the UK and they then have the chance to shorten their UK government required quarantine from 10 days to as few as 6 days. On the return, they can take another PCR test in the UK to be able to meet Canadian entry requirements on their return.
For example, if the client is staying at a hotel in London, the advisor can pre-order the client 2 kits to have delivered to their hotel. One for them to shorten their quarantine on arrival, and then one for prior to departure so they can get back into Canada.
Q. How much does the test cost and what’s the commission on the sale?
A. The manufacturer’s suggested retail price, i.e. MSRP (also the commissionable amount) is £99 which includes shipping. The published pricing currently is £119 which includes both shipping and VAT. Commission rates are confidential to the agreements but they are double digits.
Q. Once the client purchases the test from their travel agent, how do they get the test in destination? Does Chronomics mail the test directly to their hotel? If so, when is it delivered (ie. upon check-in?)
A. Through the Chronomics partner dashboard, travel advisors purchase the test on behalf of their client (much like they would any other itinerary component with a tour operator, for example) and chooses where they would like the test delivered to. Most choose their accommodation point in the UK.
Q. How quickly do clients get their results?
A. Test results generally arrive via the Chronomics app on a traveler’s phone between 36 and 48 hours of mailing the completed test kit.
Q. Are saliva-based tests considered PCR tests?
A. PCR (polymerase chain reaction testing) is a test used to “amplify” small segments of DNA. Saliva-based tests can be used for the purposes of PCR testing.
Q. Is Chronomics the company that manufactures the test? Or are they processing the tests?
A. Chronomics developed saliva testing protocols in 2017 and pivoted to using the same technology for COVID-19 testing in 2020. The Chronomics CE-marked saliva testing kit was one of the world’s first saliva tests for the identification of COVID-19 infection. The test uses the RT-PCR method and a protocol similar to the ones defined by the US Centre for Disease Control (CDC) and the World Health Organisation (WHO). It has been extensively validated globally for the detection of COVID-19.Chronomics administers all aspects of the testing process except for the processing of results which is done through its extensive laboratory partner network.
Interested travel wholesalers and retailers are invited to reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more.