Hurtigruten Takeover_
Hurtigruten Takeover_

Opinion: Working In Travel Right Now – Why Would You?

Working in travel during a global pandemic, it's damn hard. Tailor Made Travel agency owner Leah Mullen has shared her thoughts below on what is sustaining her and what silver linings she has found.

Working in travel during a global pandemic, it’s damn hard. Tailor Made Travel agency owner Leah Mullen has shared her thoughts below on what is sustaining her and what silver linings she has found.

Feeling like the rug was ripped out from underneath our feet is an understatement of how all of us have felt over the past couple of months.

The challenges and unknowns that COVID 19 has introduced to our industry has superseded anything pre dating 2020.

None of us can draw from our knowledge and experience from the “last global pandemic” and for a role in an industry that is based on trusted advice, experience and knowledge; fumbling through the everchanging policies and tools to navigate these unchartered waters has made this role almost impossible.

Agency Owner, Leah Mullen.

But…no time for dwelling on that!

Our relationships with our clients are why we do what we do and they matter.

We genuinely want them all to come out of this with the best possible financial and emotional outcomes, so we soldier on; working extremely hard and long hours on hundreds of bookings with skeleton staff and dealing with suppliers that are dealing with thousands of bookings on skeleton staff to create these outcomes.

We are the middle man (or the meat between the sandwich may be more fitting) which is difficult at the best of times as we all know that as a travel agent, we have to relinquish a large amount control over final outcomes.

Travel industry

We can never promise that you will have a pleasant host on the plane; a great meal at every restaurant; a leopard sighting on safari or that the Mona Lisa will be to your artistic liking?

Acceptance of what is out of our control has, however, now swept the globe and more than ever I have seen so many people show genuine empathy for how this affects us and our industry.

When they ask what this means for us, I simply and honestly reply…. “I don’t know, but I know we will be ok”.

Our ability to build relationships is what has made our role as a travel agent survive the ever-consistent call to deem us irrelevant over the years and is what ignites the fire in our bellies to see this through to the end.

I am sure I do not only speak for myself (and completely understand that for many there are situations that take exception to this), but our beautiful clients and the human race in general have certainly stepped up!

At 43 years of age have never seen such incredible displays of kindness, compassion, empathy, community and comradery on such a consistent and large scale.

There are opportunities and silver linings to come out of all of this and our ability in this industry to adapt has never been more apparent than now.

travelhappy-karryon

Our new ‘norm’ of working from home, isolation, social distancing and enforced hygiene practices took a matter of weeks and if you had of said to me 3 months ago, I could run my business from home I would have said you were mad.

What the ‘norm’ after this new norm is, who knows, but I honestly feel that it is our time as a collective industry to see and understand these opportunities to create beneficial change.

The lack of control has left us all very exposed and feeling vulnerable (in and out of travel) and I personally would love to see the relationships between agents and the suppliers take a step back in time when the importance of “mutual” support was our norm and respected.

The value of interpersonal relationships should not stop between the consumer and the agent and whilst I completely acknowledge that there have been some key and small-scale industry partners that have been invaluable to us during these times of COVID 19, sadly it is not anywhere near the scale that it used to be.

The choices from many airlines and tour operators to invest in technology over people has been felt more now than ever.

This is not a judgement on their choices as I am sure their reasons were to remain viable in a low yielding and highly competitive market, but it is an endorsement for those who invested in these relationships which I can guarantee will not be forgotten during and most importantly after this historically game changing time in our lives.

COVID 19 has not been discriminatory and we have witnessed it take down both the weakest and the strongest and many in between.

The reemergence and understanding that we are all in this together is the ultimate silver lining and a notion that I hope grows in its strength as the lesson to be taken from all of this.

My personal lesson: “Invest, support and be a champion for those who invest, support and champion for you”.