IT IS WITHOUT QUESTION THAT THE WORLD IS A DIFFERENT PLACE TO WHAT IT WAS PRE-PANDEMIC.
Our lifestyles have changed dramatically, and many businesses have been left economically devastated.
There is also no doubt that the travel industry has borne the brunt of this devastation.
One thing that can be taken away from this disastrous time is the success of the working-from-home model.
Businesses around the world have been forced to empty out their offices and allow employees to work from home, proving that you do not need an office to run a successful business.
According to MTA – Mobile Travel Agents veteran Kim Newton, the home-based agent model has been a blessing in disguise, eliminating many costs typically found in a traditional travel agency while still providing access to loads of support.
“I really feel for the shopfront agencies that have had to pay overheads, rent, staff etc,” she told Travel Weekly.
“It breaks my heart what they are going through. Being home-based, I have been able to avoid most of this.”
Newton has been in the travel industry for 31 years and has worked with MTA for 11 years now.
“I have had many issues that MTA have supported me with during COVID. Being a group specialist, MTA has really helped me deal with airlines and the legal side of my business,” she said.
“Initially when COVID hit, I was devastated in so many ways. You work so hard to create that perfect experience, amazing memories for your clients and they were all shattered very quickly.
“All the work that had been put into my clients came to a screaming halt.
“OBVIOUSLY, THERE WERE MANY REFUNDS, MANY POLICY AND PROCEDURE CHANGES WITHIN THE INDUSTRY. IT WAS TOUGH; HOWEVER, I WAS DETERMINED NOT TO LET IT GET TO ME. I WAS AND AM, HERE TO STAY.”
Throughout the pandemic, MTA chose not to go into hibernation by focusing on things that would help its advisors to continue working and re-engineer their businesses.
The company has been providing training and new domestic product offerings, many of which have been added as part of its partnership with Virtuoso.
“Virtuoso has been an absolute saviour to my business,” Newton said.
“Being Sydney-based, during COVID when nobody could leave the four walls of NSW, I was able to promote Virtuoso hotels within Sydney.
“I formed some amazing relationships within the hotels, created some amazing memories for over 2,000 clients.
“I have been number one Luxury Circle seller for Shangri-La Hotels and Resorts in Australia for the past eight of nine months, and a top seller for Sofitel Darling Harbour Sydney and Four Seasons Sydney also.”
Despite not selling much domestic pre-COVID, MTA’s partnership with Virtuoso helped Newton get up to speed and quickly pivot her business towards what was available in her own backyard.
“To be honest, I didn’t sell much domestic pre-COVID. However, now I can call myself an expert,” she said.
“Virtuoso has bought on many regional partners which have enabled my clients to have nice amenities and extras along the way included in their experiences. I am selling lots of the Northern Territory, Tasmania and The Whitsundays.”
According to Newton, the pandemic has helped her develop stronger marketing skills for her business.
“I had never really used social media for my business before. However, I have during COVID,” she said.
“I now know how important it is for my business which has grown dramatically.
“All these city stays soon turned into groups, birthdays, Christmas parties, weddings.
“I CERTAINLY DID NOT GO INTO HIBERNATION. I HAVE BEEN BUSIER THAN EVER.”
So, is switching to MTA a good way for retail agents to brave the remainder of the pandemic? Newton seems to think so.
“It isn’t for the faint-hearted, business doesn’t fall into your lap. Like anything you need to work hard, what you put in is what you will get out,” she said.
“MTA appreciates this and is reflected in their support when support is needed.
“I think we have all had to change the way we operate our business; we all know that the world is a different place now and I really do not think it will get back to the way it was pre-COVID for a very long time.
“We need to take this in our stride. Our country, for now, is a beautiful place.
“People have been so thankful that they have had the opportunity to explore what we have on our doorstep. None of this would have happened in our pre COVID life.”
Credit: Ali Coulton, Travel Weekly