Perspective and Lessons Learned through the COVID-19 Pandemic as a Travel Professional
An Interview by Andy Ogg, CTIE, Co-Owner – Travel Professional News
First off, thank you very much for the time today and joining our fantastic Travel Professional NEWS readers!
Would you mind sharing a bit about yourself and your Agency with our readers? Where are you located? How did you become a Travel Professional?
I am a military wife, and I love to travel. I’ve lived in 3 countries and 6 states, and have traveled to many beyond those. In my family, there are 4 people with special needs, both cognitive and physical.
6 years ago today (April 15) I became a travel agent for a Disney focused agency. I had no experience, just a love of travel and a passion for helping others plan their own amazing trips. I studied hard, and built a loyal client base who loved the itineraries I made for them.
Eventually, I wanted to help people do more than just Disney, especially those with disabilities. I decided to launch my own company, Incredible Memories, plans travel for anyone, but has a special focus on families with disabilities. I have 4 ICs who work under my name, Incredible Memories.
How long have you been in the travel industry? How long have you been running your Agency? Do you work with a Host Agency? If so, which Host Agency?
I have been in the industry for 6 years. I joined Outside Agents about a year and a half ago, and built my own company under them.
2020 started off with a bang with WAVE season followed by the COVID-19 pandemic. What a year it has been already! Can you share a bit about how the recent situation has affected your business?
Business has all but stopped. We’ve been busy processing cancellations and changes to reservations just like everyone else. We have started to see some new things trickling in, though, and it’s encouraging.
With cancellations (hopefully) behind you, how are you spending your time during this time of Travel Bans and “stay at home” warnings?
My husband and I have started building a homeschool curriculum, Incredible Journeys, based on different itineraries from suppliers. We’re using GAdventures right now. We took their Iconic Peru itinerary, and went through that day by day, providing information and activities based on where the itinerary went each day. It’s been a lot of fun! This week, we started a unit on Africa. I am excited to see what we’ll learn in the process. It’s certainly getting us excited about traveling in the future, and the hope is that it will encourage the families using it to actually go explore the places we study.
As an experienced Travel Professional, do you have any advice or tips for other Travel Professionals during this challenging time?
I think we just need to hang in there. Keep being positive. Keep reaching out to your clients. Let them know you care. Let them know you’re thinking about them, and NOT just planning their next trip. We’re in the relationship business, and now is a wonderful time to make those relationships stronger.
We know that in this Industry, we are stronger together and it has been shown time and time again through the COVID-19 pandemic. Can you share a few suppliers / partners that have truly helped you and your clients in this challenging time?
So many BDMs and suppliers have been great. It’s been a challenging time for everyone, and it’s been encouraging to see some companies rise up to support us. Sandals was incredibly helpful for me. I had a couple set to do a Test Drive with Sandals this month. The bride lost her job due to all the closures, and they really needed a refund when Sandals was offering a credit. With the help of my BDM and the wedding department, we were able to get an exception to policy, and my clients got their refund. I have also been blown away with Royal Caribbean’s response. They have really been so supportive. It’s a real blessing.
Through these times, we all learn a lot about ourselves and our businesses, can you share a few things that you’ve learned through this current pandemic either personally, professionally or both?
More and more, I am reminded of what is most important during this pandemic. Relationships matter. Not much else does. We need each other. We need to support and encourage one another, both personally and professionally. This pandemic has shown that.
Before we conclude, I personally want to thank you for your time and information shared today. We appreciate your involvement in our publication!