A friend of mine recently asked me how the current Covid-19 situation is affecting myself personally and of course also the work on Flyctory.com. I gave you a bit of insights already in a first posting, in which I explained why I do not feel it would be right to stop publishing on my blog. The posting today more describes the organizational – and financial – impact on Flyctory.com, which finally means: on me personally.
Before I come to the post it is very important to me to first of all state that I still feel to be on the lucky side. This posting will be full of negative impacts – and I can tell you that especially mentally, the situation touches me terribly. Travelling is a core factor of my health. Nevertheless, I can still pursue my professional job as a software engineer at a French reinsurance company, who is doing an excellent job in supporting the people currently. I do not run into economic issues due to Covid-19 directly. Apart from a minor infection I am physically healthy – and of course, finally, Germany is doing excellent politics at the moment in my point of view. The national organisation, healthcare, the level of information is really good in a situation, which we all did not have as such so far in our lives. Nonetheless, I feel being European and hate that borders are closed. I am very worried about international friends, especially in the USA. Hope to see you all safe and happy soon again!
Just before I wanted to post this one, I got the news that a wonderful Nashville friend of mine lost her job. As said, I am still on the lucky side. In case you read it, my heart is with you!
Flyctory.com vs. Covid-19 – Impact on the Blog
The may least important impact, but a nice illustration how the Covid-19 situation changes the use of media is the pure impact on access on flyctory.com. No matter if you count the number of users, page impressions or similar metrics, the traffic on the blog about half the volume from mid-March to mid-April compared to the four week period before. Not too surprisingly, people just don’t seem to care about travel and sports too much – but also the music part of Flyctory.com has quite some significant reductions, even though I am increasing the proportion of music posting during the Covid-19 period.
Flyctory.com is far from being commercial – the income I create with google ads is significantly lower than the costs of purely driving the website technically, i.e. hosting, software licences etc. I also like to use google ads as a measure for the “importance” of the website, as it combines three factors: The number of interactions with the website, the way I set up the website technically and an economic value, represented by how well google is able to sell ads on my blog, which the users like in a way that they interact with them (i.e. click it). If I take my google ads income as a metrics for the “attractiveness” of Flyctory.com, this value decreased by about 80 to 90 per cent compared to one month ago.
Flyctory.com vs. Covid-19 – Financial Impact
In my previous posting, why I feel it is better to keep on blogging, I already stated that there are a couple of trips (and by that, some quite interesting reviews), which will be impacted by the current travel risk and restrictions. Some trips I planned until end of June are:
- A trip to Spain with multiple scenic rail routes
- Going to New York over the Easter holidays
- A trip to the Floorball Superfinals in Stockholm (end of April)
- A May trip to Montreal and Seattle
- A rail trip covering the Eurocity Express from Frankfurt to Milan, the Italian high speed services and the Austrian night train services
- Last, but not least, a late May / early June trip to the CMA Fest in Nashville
Including the travel costs for my wife, who would have joined me on two of these trips, the total travel volume is some 15,000 Euro. Even though some of the stuff has already been cancelled mid March, I have hardly received any cash refunds so far. There are some very exceptional cases so far:
- In my experience so far, Hilton Hotels are great. First of all, they released a very customer friendly Covid-19 policy, secondly none of the hotels I had to withdraw so far took longer than three to five days to refund me the prepaid cash so far.
- I had also had very good experience with rail companies so far. German Rail service are not too comfortable with cash refunds, but vouchers (which are fine to me in that case) can be requested online and are delivered online in minutes. Even better, the Spanish trains automatically refund you when a train is cancelled.
- I also felt a great customer attitude at the legendary Nashville Grand Ole Opry, who refunded me for a June show, even though it not been cancelled at that time.
The Voucher Issue
The list of negative examples are much longer. Unacceptably long process times, some companies even switched off their phone and chat support off completely (which is especially odd if you want to contact them from abroad), websites which feel to urge you to select an option which is very unfortunate to you. The list is just too long for this posting. You also do have the rights to have cash refunds for cancelled flights in Europe – but in most cases, you would have to sue the companies if they just offer you a voucher. Ideally, you get rid of the vouchers as quickly as possible – especially for the companies which may be deeply hit economically by the current situation. Fortunately, my biggest assets are against Air Canada, Singapore Airlines and British Airways, which should be quite fine.
I am currently still able to withdraw from my original vacation plans at work – but whenever there is a day in the future where I feel it is safe to re-book these trips again, I need the travel volume in cash on my accounts (or at least in vouchers). Not having the liquidity available at that time would naturally make me run into trouble.
Flyctory.com vs. Covid-19 – Organizational Impact
Far more than the financial impact itself, the organizational impact on the blog by the Covid-19 pandemic is a huge mess. I can’t count the hours any more which I have spent in phone queues or trying to find out online, which Covid-19 policies companies have to alter travel plans. It is getting better now, but in in the last four weeks roughly, I spent some 15 hours each week on that one only – bad luck that it also means that I could not change the character of the website as I wanted it to be – for example having more reviews on rail travel and other travel topics which are maybe more eco-friendly than flying only.
The organizational impact will hit me deep into 2021 at least. For example, I had to refuse to book a trip to Greenland in 2021 because I might need quite a bunch of vacation in that year to get rid of vouchers I receive from airline companies (they typically have comparably short validity dates). Especially if you are a family with kids being limited to have your best time of the year during school holidays, this will be a great mess when all these people will in parallel try to get rid of their travel vouchers at that Day X, when travel is possible again.
Flyctory.com vs. Covid-19 – Perspective
It is still hard for me to say how Covid-19 will hit my blogging in the next months. I may not always share the content with you I was planning to do, but at least for some six to eight weeks, there will definitely be no issues, also because I raised the quota of music postings (and there is new music all the time).
How travel will change and if it will stay affordable, nobody knows. To me, meeting people from everywhere in the world was a huge part of my life. I hope to keep it up, but I worry that I will have to reduce it in the future. It is a pity. By travelling, especially overseas, you connect people, you lower prejudices. I deeply miss places lake Nashville. Not sure when I will be back there. Flyctory.com may become more local, more European, if travel prices raise… But let’s see. I am always very thankful for your comments and support!
Last But Not Least – Some very personal words
This one is mainly to some other people in Germany. Working in an international company, I more or less have daily contact to people in France, in the United Kingdom, in Ireland and in the United States. A vast majority envy me for living in Germany these days and have a high respect to the German government that they seem to be able to handle the current situation very well.
When I look in Social Media accounts, I see so many negative comments about what is going on in my country. I definitely do not want to swap job with Angela Merkel – a high pressure, 24 hour, superhigh responsibility and on top of that: underpaid task she has to do. I feel she is doing great. Yes, the German government made mistakes – like I would say any government in the world did. My colleagues from Ireland may get stopped on the road if they leave their home by more than two kilometers. France is chaotic – and, worst of all to me, the USA is in a complete struggle. You can be critical, but give positive suggestions, not these negative ones like “They are terrible”. This situation sucks for everybody – but compared to other countries, living in Germany currently should feel like paradise to us.
Off Topic: Covid-19 statistics
As said, I feel that I am quite blessed regarding the political support we are having in Germany, but also the way the company I am professionally working for is handling the situation. If you want to look a bit into statistics about the virus and are a bit tired of the well-known John Hopkins University map, I think my company created a really nice tool, which you may access online under the following URL:
Of course, as with any of these tools, I asked you to be very careful with the figures it produces, some of the rates, for example, might be very misleading in certain situations.
Postings about Flyctory.com
I sometimes write about the development of this blog, upgrades and other internal topics:
Postings about Germany
Here are all Flyctory.com postings related to Germany: