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?
Oddly enough, “I Want To Be A Travel Agent” was the title of my ‘When I Grow Up…’ assignment in Elementary School. No joke! I had visited over 25 states as a young child, so was naturally interested in travel. As an adult, I coordinated many group outings and extensively traveled the country. A close friend worked part-time at a local agency here in Columbus (Ohio), so I joined them almost 10 years ago.
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?
2011 – I joined the local agency as a part-time IC
2013 – Made the move to join our host agency, Outside Agents
2015 – My wife and I felt it was important to leave my secure, full-time job of 14 years and dedicate myself full-time to travel (wife still employed outside the home)
2017 – My wife Cheryl joined me full-time as well
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?
In 2019, we had nearly doubled our sales from the previous year and were surging forward. Our 2020 sales were relatively strong; however we currently have 3 groups on hold as a result of the pandemic. As with most all agents, we have had many FIT cancellations/re-bookings for this Spring/Summer.
With cancellations (hopefully) behind you, how are you spending your time during this time of Travel Bans and “stay at home” warnings?
It’s important to note that we care for our 2 grandsons (ages 10 and 12). Therefore, life has changed dramatically as we are spending much time helping them with their schoolwork. Regarding travel, I have been working to keep in communication with both my individual clients as well as prospective group leaders. We are not promoting travel during the pandemic. However, we are preparing for a substantial spike in business this summer.
As an experienced Travel Professional, do you have any advice or tips for other Travel Professionals during this challenging time?
OK – this may seem simple but are we doing this? Keep in touch with your clients. Call/text/email/social media – whatever method works is fine. Assure them that we’re in this together and you’re not going anywhere.
This is also a fantastic time to complete additional skills and vendor training!
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?
I am a big fan of GOGO Worldwide Vacations, especially their group department.
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.
My wife and I established a ‘rainy-day’ fund as our sales grew through the past 2-3 years. This was critical for giving us confidence during these current times. Also, be thankful and appreciative toward your clients. There are so many ways they could book their personal travel and they chose to trust in you!
Before we conclude, I personally want to thank you for your time and information shared today. We appreciate your involvement in our publication!