On Agent Insights, we want to help you be the very best travel agent you can be, by providing high performing agents a platform to share their tips, challenges and experiences.

This week we speak to one of the big boys of the industry, Karsten Horne, who not only runs Reho Travel, but has a serious case of the travel bug that’s taken him all around the world – from Timor to Antarctica and to “countries you’ve probably never heard of.”

Karsten first started in the industry back in 1983, working at David Wang Travel in a three-level Chinese furniture megastore.

He’s been featured on KarryOn before, but this time we want to dig a little deeper and find out how Karsten performs his day-to-day role as a superstar travel agent.

Meet Karsten Horne, a veteran of the industry who loves nothing more than getting active and supporting his beloved Western Bulldogs.

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What exactly do you do and how long have you done it?

I run Reho Travel, which is a travel management company with offices in both Melbourne and Sydney.

We work with our clients to manage all elements of their travel in an efficient, cost effective and ethical manner. In addition, we have specialist leisure, study tours and incentives departments. I started in travel over 30 years ago.

Pretend I’m a potential client for a moment. What do you do that separates you from the pack?

Reho Travel is committed to making a difference in the world that its clients travel to. We are one of only two TMC’s (Travel Management Company) in the world that have achieved B Corp accreditation. B Corporations are a new kind of company which use the power of business to solve social and environmental issues.

Let’s travel back in time. What do you wish you knew back when you started working as a travel agent? And what do you think some of the common mistakes travel agents make when starting off?

I wish I knew how much technology would play a part in our sector. I might have then gone to uni and educated myself. It also took me a while to realise that the industry wasn’t going to teach me much about running an innovative business, so my advice would be to look at growing industry sectors and learn from what they are doing.

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Have you ever managed to turn a customer complaint into something positive? If so, how did you do it?

Yeah, lots of times! There is always going to be lots of reasons to complain, as there is so much out of our control. So when a customer complains, there is an opportunity to engage with them, show that you care, improve your service, tweak the process and cement a long-term mutually beneficial relationship.

What are your biggest challenges at the moment?

Convincing potential corporate clients of the value we can add to their business and then once we have done that working with them to make those changes. I guess also helping them understand that an ideal partnership requires them to pay for the value we have added.

What are you doing to turn that around?

It’s all about education. The more they understand the value we bring, the more they’re likely to pay for it. Ensuring we work with the best technology partners keeps us ahead of the game too.

Ok, last but not least: how do you see the industry evolving in 2016?

I would like to see an industry where customers are choosing an airline for its low fuel consumption, a hotel in the developing world for its labour practices, and a tour company that involves the local community, booking them all with a travel agency that has the awareness and experience to guide them toward suppliers that have a positive impact on the world.

However I think realistically that’s at least 5 years away, so for 2016 I’ll go with the slow but inevitable demise of the corporate domestic consultant. (Tech savvy online support consultants with strong personalities will replace them.)

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Where can people find you if they’d like to make contact?

I’m generally easy to find as long as you follow me on Facebook as I have an annoying habit of updating my status several times a day.

You can also call me on 0431 677 177 or email me at [email protected]

If you can’t get hold of me, then I’m probably riding my mountain bike up at Lysterfield, running around Albert Park Lake, standing at the front of the Western Bulldogs cheer squad, or visiting a country you’ve probably never heard of.

Like what you’ve read? Check out some of the other agents we’ve interviewed on Agent Insights, such as Peter Fiske from Clayfield Travel, Lorie Raymundo from Travel Counsellors, Ez Yiap from Student Flights and Sean Baldwin from STA Travel.

*If you’d like to be be featured on Agent Insights, then email [email protected] – I’d be happy to interview you!

So what are your key takeaways from Karsten? Let us know in the comments below.