DURING THIS DEVASTATING TIME OF CLOSED BORDERS, TIGHT BUDGETS, AND DISAPPOINTED CLIENTS, WE LOVE A GOOD SUCCESS STORY.
Travel agents are a wily bunch, with truckloads of love for what they do, but these tough times have brought the industry to its knees.
MTA – Mobile Travel Agents’ Carine Boost and Linda Kiernander managed to take their business from 90 per cent international bookings to 95 per cent domestic while still being able to pay their bills and keep food on the table, and we’re not just talking canned beans.
They did this through hard work, passion and the backing of the right kind of industry affiliate.
Boost and Kiernander partnered their business, ‘Travel with the Luxury Concierge’, with home-based travel network MTA – Mobile Travel Agents after a combined 42 years in the industry.
Many retail agencies or sole traders have brought their businesses under the MTA umbrella to take advantage of the extra support and ‘big agency’ buying power.
“I decided that MTA was the perfect fit and home-based business model for me offering support, scope to grow my business and a flexibility to spend time with family when needed while still being able to work the hours to suit my lifestyle,” Kiernander said.
With next to no database upon joining, both worked hard to get the word out and grow their business but were completely blindsided by the global pandemic.
“While living in our world of COVID, we definitely feel like we lost control due to international border closures and the constant uncertainty over potential domestic border restrictions and closures,” Boost said.
“It was devastating, and never in a million years did we envisage that it would impact our business for so long.
“WE WORKED SO HARD FOR SO MANY MONTHS CREATING AMAZING INTERNATIONAL ITINERARIES FOR OUR CLIENTS, ONLY TO HAVE THE WALLS COME CRASHING DOWN ON US AND OUR CLIENTS’ DREAMS IN WHAT FELT LIKE AN INSTANT.”
On top of the border closures and uncertainty, the two failed to qualify for government grants.
“We were rejected due to, we believe, lack of government understanding and flaws in the federal grant application system regarding partnerships,” Boost said.
But, as life partners with no other source of income, Boost and Kiernander decided early on that putting their business in hibernation was not an option.
“MTA, Virtuoso and social media have really been our saviour over the past 12 months, and with lots of persistence and hard work, we have managed to quadruple our database since COVID began wreaking havoc on our Industry,” Kiernander said.
“MTA’s Our Australia – Revive Collection and Virtuoso’s focus on domestic product helped us pivot our business towards promoting and selling staycations, which is where a considerable amount of our income has been generated especially over the past 11 months.
“A business that was made up of close to 90 per cent international travel pre-COVID is now 95 per cent domestic travel!”
The two have focused on pivoting their businesses towards WA travel, and more recently other states, always trying to “think out of the box”.
They say, the key ingredient has been client engagement.
“It is all about educating clients about the perils of booking online and the challenges travellers have endured by going it alone,” Boost said.
“WE ARE REMINDING ALL OUR CLIENTS, OLD AND NEW, THAT WE OFFER A PERSONALISED SERVICE, ADDED EXTRAS AND THAT WE CAN VIP THEM, WHICH IS SOMETHING YOU CANNOT DO WITH AN ONLINE BOOKING ENGINE.
“MTA regularly send out emails to our subscribed clients with deals and ideas to whet their appetite and bring the travel bug out in them again.”
Though we are still facing uncertain times within the industry, both Boost and Kiernander have a lot of hope for the future of the industry.
“Those who are prepared to put in the hard yards can reap the rewards with the support of the team at MTA and its affiliations with luxury programs,” Kiernander said.
“Determination, perseverance, a positive, hard-working, go-get them attitude are definitely the key ingredients needed for a travel business in COVID times.”
Find out more about how MTA – Mobile Travel Agents can help you continue in the industry you love with minimum overheads and costs HERE.
credit: As published in Travel Weekly