Travel is BACK! We are hearing from our agents coast to coast that their inboxes are filling up and their phones are ringing with Canadians eager to take to the skies again.
While we are all excited, we acknowledge that the sales process, booking process and our industry itself look very different from before the global pandemic.
In anticipation of this you have diligently attended training courses from cruise lines, hotel chains, tourist boards and more ensuring you are up to date on the latest safety precautions, travel preparations an entry requirements so you can expertly advise your clients.
Duty of care to our clients has always been paramount but now, more than ever, and especially as Independent Agents, you need to commit to duty of care to yourself.
Your clients don’t always see all the extraordinary work that goes on behind the scenes. It has been 18+ months of working under exceptional circumstances and as travel resumes you are putting in long hours to ensure your clients’ travel experience is as smooth as possible.
Your clients come to you because as their trusted travel advisor they value your advice, respect your expertise, and rely on you for guidance. That can be a heavy burden to bear in these tumultuous times.
So how can you ensure that you rise to the challenge time and again? We recommend trying a few of these tips to help reduce stress and make your workday easier:
1. Block time out in your calendar for lunch. We see you, working the entire day at your desk, forgetting to eat or scarfing down a quick bite while you send emails. Block at least 30 minutes where you get up from your desk, move somewhere else, put your phone on silent and take a break. This can seem an impossible task somedays but commit to trying it for 1 week and see the difference it makes.
2. If you have several destinations you sell regularly, bookmark their government travel advisory sites to ensure you can access them quickly for reference when speaking with clients to make sure there have been no recent restrictions or changes to entry requirements.
3. If you have certain preferred suppliers/chains that you sell regularly, ensure you are on your BDM’s email list. Any changes that happen will normally be emailed out to their distribution list ASAP so making sure you are on it ensures you are among the first to know.
4. We know Independent Contractors don’t always have a typical ‘9-to-5’ and for many of you the workday is from the first client to the last client. Try to set a hard shut-off time at least 2 days a week to ensure you are getting time ‘away from the office.’
5. Hold times have been a particular challenge for many agents. Many suppliers have recently released ‘self-serve’ options for certain high-demand requests. Review those suppliers and have their self-serve options saved for convenience allowing you to action what you can do on your own, leaving only items you can’t action on your own as reasons to call.
6. We know as travel resumes there are still a few hurdles to overcome. One thing our Independent by Flight Centre agents have always excelled at is building a supportive community. Ensure you have a few individuals you can turn to that can lend a sympathetic ear, help you find the silver lining in a rough day, and offer sound advice or different perspective on an issue.
7. Emotions are running high at the moment and quite often clients can direct their frustrations for circumstances out of your control at you. Take a deep breath and respond but don’t react. If over email, give it some time before you craft a reply. If on a call, let the client vent (sometimes they just want someone to listen) and then ask if you can investigate it and call them back. This gives you time to pause and look at the situation objectively before calling them back.
There is a lot being asked of travel agents right now and the pressure can be intense. By taking care of yourself, setting boundaries, making small changes to give yourself quick access to the information you need, you’ll be well-positioned to rise to any challenge and be there for your clients as they begin to travel again.