THERE IS A COMMON MISCONCEPTION THAT HOME-BASED TRAVEL AGENTS ARE CUT OFF FROM THEIR TRADE COMMUNITY.
Seasoned travel expert Amelia Roth reckons that could not be further from the truth.
She said her home-based travel agency was a saving grace through an extremely tough time – Melbourne’s record COVID-19 lockdown period, which lasted more than 100 days.
Amelia has been working with MTA – Mobile Travel Agents since 2018, following a seven-year stint at Flight Centre.
“I felt it was time for me to be my own boss,” Amelia told Travel Weekly.
“I had a group of amazing and loyal clients who followed me and were excited for me to go out on my own as a home agent.”
After researching many home-based agent companies, Amelia quickly realised MTA was to be her new home.
“The rapport and support I felt straight away was the biggest factor with the MTA decision,” she said.
“As soon as I signed up and went through training, I felt part of the family.”
Having just emerged from yet another lockdown, this time just for two weeks, Amelia said being a Melbournian has been “tough”.
“It [was] not a nice feeling, a bit of ‘here we go again’ coupled with a little PTSD of previous lockdowns,” she said.
But, having been there before, Amelia was able to get back into “lockdown mode” knowing she could rely on the support of her MTA community, which got her through Melbourne’s mammoth 112-day lockdown.
“Throughout the lockdowns, our Victorian-based MTA family jumped on Zoom calls at least once a week to check in on each other, to laugh, vent and have a cry if needed,” she said.
“IT WAS THE BEST [AND] IT REALLY HELPED US THROUGH LOCKDOWN, AS YOU NEVER FELT ALONE … ESPECIALLY ON THE BAD DAYS, AND THERE WERE A FEW!”
“I am lucky enough to have my MTA family, with the MTA Agents Facebook page or Messenger group chat at my fingertips,” she said.
Besides providing support and solidarity, Amelia said her MTA community has been an invaluable source of product knowledge and experience.
“[Using] the MTA Agent Facebook page, we can tap into the whole MTA community’s knowledge and expertise,” she said.
“It’s not a competitive environment at all, and we are all on there to help answer questions from accommodation to restaurant recommendations and, in recent times, how to navigate all the information on returning travellers, border permits and government restrictions.”
Despite specialising in international sporting events before COVID-19 hit, Amelia has managed to keep her business afloat by keeping up to date on webinars provided by MTA and attending supplier events to grow her knowledge of the domestic market.
She has pivoted parts of her business to the domestic market by organising horse racing tours, as well as managing her repeat clients school holidays packages, birthday trips and domestic flight-only bookings.
“Even though I may not make much money on a flight-only booking, it’s so important to make sure you keep up the high standard of service you have anyways had,” she said.
“International travel will not be back for a while, so I need to make sure I stay relevant.”
For Amelia, that has also meant making sure she is clear with her clients about service fees and cancellation costs.
“We are a service business and need to be remunerated for or services going forward,” she added.
“AS TRAVEL AGENTS, WE ARE SO VALUABLE, AND WE SHOULD NEVER SHY AWAY FROM TELLING PEOPLE OUR WORTH.
“I used to be nervous about charging my client a service fee for my work … not anymore!
“After what I went through, I know now who I want to work with going forward and how important constant communication is with clients, so they know you are still in business and ready to book any trip for them, no matter how small.”
Find out more about how MTA – Mobile Travel Agents can help you continue in the industry you love with minimum overheads and costs HERE.
As published in Travel Weekly.