As travel restrictions set in, Jane and Jason Beck launched a travel YouTube channel as a means of engagement and to raise spirits. The TPI advisors hope to film in international locations someday and also revamped their website to gear up for the comeback.
Jane and I have never met, but I feel like we are best friends. Jane and her husband Jason have been constant rays of sunshine throughout this crazy year. They have taken on new approaches to market their business, from virtual consumer events to their own YouTube travel channel. I look forward to hearing back from Jane every time I reach out. She cares about her guests like family and it shows up in her daily communication. I am proud to be partners with At Your Beck and Call. I can’t wait to meet in person and continue to build our relationship in travel. Thank you for all the work you continue to put in, I know it will pay off for you.
Can you tell us a little about yourself and how long you’ve been in the industry?
Jason: We started the training course with Travel Professionals International in October of 2018. Prior to that, I was a residential finishing contractor. I am currently continuing my contracting business through this pandemic. Jane owns a Scandinavian bakery, The Lefse House, along with her mother and father.
Why and how did you decide to become a travel advisor?
Jason: Ultimately, we both wanted to transition from our careers into something completely different. We wanted the freedom to work from anywhere and break away from the 9-5 job structure. Travel was one of our greatest interests. With Jane proficient with spreadsheets and itinerary planning, and me excelling at networking with people, we made a really great team. And to our delight — here we are!
What’s your favourite part of being a travel agent?
Jason: It is difficult to pinpoint one favourite part of being a travel agent. Of course, we would have to say travelling into the unknown of exotic places and meeting wonderful people and their cultures is at the top of the list. However, arranging an itinerary for a client, and seeing their excitement and anticipation as their vacation draws near, is equally or even more rewarding. We always say, “There’s nothing better than people and places.”
What’s a key thing you learned during the pandemic?
Jane: We started the pandemic out in full flight. We arranged for a group of students to leave Canada early in January for Wuhan, China. A few days after landing, the city was shut down and we started working with government officials to get the group home, all the while trying to calm anxious parents. A heart stopping moment came when we learned that one of the students, who was a US citizen, would not be allowed to travel back to Canada with his Canadian peers. He would have to be repatriated back to the United States. We anxiously waited to hear if he would leave at the same time as the Canadians or at least before them. The thought of leaving a student behind by himself in a locked down city, amidst a growing global pandemic, was horrifying!
We learned through this experience, don’t sweat the small stuff or sometimes the big stuff. We kept our cool and really tried to demonstrate professionalism in our industry. This thought kept coming back to us as the pandemic swept through the rest of the world, and we started re-arranging our clients’ itineraries to get them back home safely as international borders were closing. We even got a call from an acquaintance that had a DIY booking. He was now stuck at his destination, asking for professional help in his desperation to return home. We were not just advisors; we were professionals of our trade.
What will be your first post-pandemic trip and why?
Jane: Somewhere tropical. I need to get my toes in the sand. Sun on my face. And take a deep breath of that warm, humid air. We usually do at least one tropical trip a year and we have now missed two years in a row to soak up that beautiful sun. Our kids have started playing “resort” in their make-believe play. I think they are trying to tell us something…
Do you believe more people will use travel advisors after COVID-19?
Jason: Yes, without a doubt! With travellers realizing the hard truth of booking with a box store travel centre or online booking platform, they will be looking for first class customer service. Those that didn’t book with an advisor and had to deal with their own insurance claims, future travel vouchers, or chasing refunds on their bookings, will not make the same mistake again.
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?
Jane: We learned very quickly in the COVID-19 crisis who had our backs and who were covering their own. Those companies that stood behind their advisors will have our business moving forward. We were pretty new to the industry when the pandemic hit. We were the classic newbies trying to sell everything to everyone, and it just wasn’t working for us. With this break, we have really focused on our ideal client, our preferred suppliers, and what travel experiences we want to sell. We have implemented a service fee structure which, before, seemed out of the question. But being reminded repeatedly that we are professionals in our industry, we deserve to be compensated for our knowledge and expertise.
Do you have anything to add?
Jane: I am not sure we would have made it through the Wuhan group emergency without the support from our host agency, let alone survive a year + of travel crisis. TPI has stepped up to the plate to support their crew of independent advisors, giving us day-to-day resources, professional development courses and webinars, fun challenges, and shoulders to cry on when we really needed it. And not to mention the advisor community they have built. We refer to ourselves as a family, and it is certainly true.