Those of us who have been in the industry a long time thought we had “seen it all”: 9/11, SARS, various financial meltdowns and tanking loonies. But, very sad to say, they all pale in comparison with COVID-19.
The worldwide scope of the crisis, the galloping increases in diagnoses, closed borders and slashed airline schedules – plus the current lack of a vaccine or cure – have made for a nightmare for our industry.
Yet I predict that the industry will, eventually, come back, just as it has from other crises. No one knows when that will be, but in the interim how can we try to put a positive spin on the fact that it is a very quiet time in retail travel? Here are a few ideas:
- Think of how often you wished you had more time… when you wished there were more hours in the day. Well, here’s your chance to: tidy up your office. Go through old files and purge purge purge. Clean up your email box – if it’s like mine it’s long overdue a spring cleaning. Update your Facebook page, your professional biography. Get those dozens of photos organized so that they will be great marketing tools for you.
- Get smart. Use these available hours to upgrade your skills. There are countless webinars out there, free of charge. If you’ve always dreamed of specializing, rather than being a generalist, now’s your chance to hone those skills.
- Your clients are still there. They’re just not travelling. But when they start again, you want them to still consider you as their travel advisor. Keep in touch, maybe with a snail mail greeting card or friendly email to say that you are thinking of them and while they’re staying close to home these days you’d love to help them build a bucket list for when travel resumes.
Trying to put a bright note on all of what has happened, I think it has shown the world the value of what we do. Canadians who booked directly with local suppliers overseas, or who thought they “didn’t need a travel agent”, have learned a hard and valuable lesson. It’s our job now to remind them that we are here to stay, and here to help them for many years to come.
Lynda Sinclair, CTM, is the Senior Vice-President – Leisure at Vision Travel, which has an ever-expanding and vibrant program for independent agents. With 35 years in the Canadian retail travel industry Lynda “lives and breathes what goes on at the front line” and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.