As a self employed home based travel agent my company Time 2 Travel has certainly taken a ‘beating’ to say the least during this most difficult time due to the recent Covid-19 crisis. In an industry where we depend 100 % on commissions with NO salary being paid, home based travel agents are on the verge of loosing everything they have worked for this past year.
Specializing in a niche industry such as destination weddings, birthday groups, etc requires alot pre planning and typically a year or more in advance we get to work for our clients. Working for them throughout the year, phone calls, emails, messages getting the clients all booked. Working for a year, with no income on this group until the end of travel. This is the ‘icing on the top’ for us agents. Final payments are in, and the group is anxious to travel. Once they return… we FINALLY get paid our commission for the work we have done for over a year, sometimes more.
The impact of the Covid virus on us agents is tremendous.. as we have groups cancelling every day, every group we worked on ( plus all individual bookings) WITH ZERO coming back to us as commission. So where does that leave us? We are literally sinking, loosing all the hard earned money we were looking depending on receiving and have already forecasted for.
It’s a nightmare for us.
We still have to service our clients in the midst of all of this.
So we go to work again, yet this time KNOWING we are not getting paid for any of our time.
We are on hold for hours upon hours, days upon days, trying to get through to supplier for questions and cancelations. 2 – 3, 4 days NO pay and working definitely way more than a regular 8 hour day.
Remember how important it is to book with a Travel Agent, because we are here for our clients day in and day out to get you through this time.
Financially its over for most of us this year.. NEXT year we can hope for better. But who can go a year without their expected pay?
Mentally it draining us, its exhausting and taking a toll on our families not only ourselves. So people need to know the impact this has on us - Your Home Based Travel Agent.
Thankfully I have wonderful clients who are cheering me on, supporting me and sending encouraging messages despite the fact they have had to post pone their travel.
Thankfully I have an amazing network of travel agent friends supporting each other to get us through these long ‘non paid work days’
However the Truth is, travel Agents all over the country are suffering and the only way we will survive is if the Government initiates some form of temporary relief. We are sinking here and literally watching our hard earned money go down the drain.
Here are my tips for other travel agents during this difficult time
- Check daily the updates on the tour operator agent sites. Email the official current notice sent to you or that is posted by the tour operator to your client so that they can see this policy for themselves.
- Multitask your wait and time by using multiple phone lines if you can. I was on hold with one supplier on my land line and was on hold with another supplier regarding another booking on my cell phone.
- Utililize your host agency private agent facebook page if you have one. Agents have been helping and supporting each other by posting up to date policies, and their answers just received from a suppler on a question
- Offer assistance to others agents if you are on hold for a supplier. I posted .. IM IN THE QUEUE WITH TRANSAT, on our agent page and I have 2 or 3 agents send me their questions for that particular supplier.. I could then POST to our page and answer that question
- Put an automatic response on to your email letting your client know their email has been received and due to the high volume of emails, you will be responding in order of departure date... They will know it is received and hopefully eliminate the same person emailing over and over.
By servicing our clients and not hiding from them, they are certainly going to remember the hands-on customer service you provided and will come back to you when things get back to normal.
Sharon Loppie, Time 2 Travel