Erin Kemp knew she’d be part of the travel industry growing up going to work with her mom Sheila, who founded Kemp Travel Group. Kemp joined the family business 11 years ago and is now a co-owner.
Erin and her agency have not let the current pandemic prevent them from keeping their clients excited about the benefits of travel and tourism. They are committing to future travel, securing their spaces now for trips in 2022 and beyond and their passion and purpose mirrors our own here at G Adventures. Their travellers are ‘booking now for travel later’ and this is testament to their ongoing communication with their customers and their love for what they do. They are a delight to work with and I would love to see their fierce commitment recognized with an accolade from Baxter Media.
Can you tell us a little about yourself and how long you’ve been in the industry?
My name is Erin Kemp and I am a travel advisor and co-owner of the Kemp Travel Group. This year will mark my 11th year in the travel industry, all of which have been with Kemp Travel. I joined the family business right out of university and have grown immensely as a travel professional over that time. I am proud to be a second generation owner and look forward to carrying the torch forward, while continuing to grow and expand this incredible business that I am so lucky to be a part of.
Why and how did you decide to become a travel advisor?
I have always had a passion for travel and exploring far off destinations. My mother (Sheila Kemp) started our agency in 1982 from the ground up and has worked incredibly hard to grow the business to what it is today. I was immersed in the travel industry from a young age — from family trips to hanging out in the agency on holidays and days off school. I still have fond memories as a kid coming to work with my mom and leafing through brochures and looking at the pictures, dreaming of all of the places I would visit one day. The agency has always felt like a second home to me so I always knew that this is where I would end up professionally. Travel is in my blood, and with my mother owning the agency, joining the family business was a no brainer. My mom has always been a hard worker and is very well-respected not only in the travel industry, but our community as well. She has been a constant positive and strong female role model and I have always strived to be like her one day. I couldn’t imagine myself doing anything else!
What’s your favourite part of being a travel agent?
Having a client reach out to tell me that their trip was everything they dreamed of and more is hands down the best part of the job. There’s nothing more rewarding than having a client come home and tell you that their trip exceeded all expectations and the work you did left them with positive memories that they will cherish for the rest of their lives. I also love the excitement on a clients face when they finally book that vacation they have been dreaming about for years. The excitement I get from being able to help turn peoples dreams into reality is priceless!
Beyond that, I’ve been lucky enough to have travelled to so many amazing countries and taken part in tons of unique experiences that I may have never been afforded, had I not been in the industry. There is nothing more exciting than discovering a new destination, trying a new food or experiencing a different culture. Being in the industry allows me to continue to explore the world and bring this expertise, joy and excitement to my clients.
What’s a key thing you learned during the pandemic?
Patience. This past year has been tough on the entire industry and patience is key. Patience with all of my team members, colleagues, supplier partners, the government and most importantly my clients. Everyone is frustrated with this situation and in most cases it is out of our control. Some clients are holding thousands of dollars in credits and we are now over a year in, with what still feels like no end in sight. With that being said, this too shall pass and with patience, empathy and adversity we will come out stronger on the other side.
What will be your first post-pandemic trip and why?
This is a tough one. I currently have a few things planned, but what will come to fruition is another story. I have plans to visit Vancouver Island this August, which is one part of Canada I have yet to explore. I have also planned my first international trip for the end of November to Chile and Argentina to hike the Patagonia region with my fiancé. In 2022 I plan on making up for lost time. I currently have plans to travel to Costa Rica in February to facilitate a destination wedding I have been planning. I will be escorting two group tours over the month of May in South Africa and we will be celebrating Kemp Travel’s 40th anniversary next November on a Mekong River Cruise sailing. A common theme in the industry has been to book now and travel later so we are leading by example and doing just that. We can’t be sure just how much longer this pandemic will last but if there’s one thing I’ve learned through this all, it is that people need something to look forward to — myself included.
From charging fees to re-evaluating which suppliers you will work or won’t work with in the future, how have you changed the way you work since the pandemic hit?
Working from home through constant shutdowns has definitely changed the way we work. We’ve been forced to adapt and learn new technologies to continue. We used to do a lot of in person events, but we are now arranging more and more virtual webinars for our clients. Team meetings and client meetings have moved to virtual as well. We have had to utilize social media more than ever to stay in touch with our clients and let them know that we are still here and ready to help. We are also more and more focused on suppliers that have had our backs throughout the pandemic. Those who have helped with clients or protected our commissions will see favourable treatment moving forward. The suppliers that have reached out to us on a regular basis or checked in to see if there was anything they could help with has gone a long way and showed us they are truly there to support their agency partners. But at the end of the day the client wants what they want and we will continue to do what’s best for our client.
Do you have anything to add?
I just want to thank whoever nominated me for this article. It is a great honour to be recognized for the work we do and I just want to congratulate all of the other agents featured in this piece. I also want to commend all of the other travel advisors across the country currently dealing with the same problems. This has been an incredibly tough year for our industry and our profession but the work you’re doing is invaluable. You’re all rockstars and we’re all going to get through this together!