Story ANN RUPPENSTEIN
Cover photo JASON IRISH
Lede photo MICHELLE GAUDET
The travel industry was and continues to be hit hard by COVID-19, but through it all agents have taken a lot of the stress away from clients by rebooking cancelled flights, staying on hold for hours with suppliers to facilitate changes and credits, and making the necessary arrangements to get travellers home.
“In these uncertain times for our industry, the shining light truly has been our agent partners,” David Green, VP Commercial at G Adventures tells Travel Courier. “Their support for our travellers and staff across the globe has been incredible. I’m thankful for their dedication to doing the right thing for all our travellers in these trying times and for remaining strong while we get through this together. I’m confident we will come out of this stronger than before.”
Similarly, his colleague, Sean Russo, National Sales Manager, Canada for the tour operator adds, “I could not imagine navigating this experience as a traveller without the help of a travel professional. Our agent partners are a strong bunch and their role in the travel industry’s future rebound is pivotal. Our agent partners inspire, educate and support global travel and we appreciate their resiliency and support as we get through this together.”
As Travel Agent Day approaches, Colleen Lorenzen, who came up with the idea of holding an annual day in appreciation of the travel trade, says, “I think there has never been a greater need to celebrate agents than now. I have definitely been pleased with the different attitude that I am finding online and just from people in general. They now see where our value lies. We are so much more than someone who books your travel. We are there to give advice, to help when things go wrong and to take care of our clients like they are family. Just having someone to call when you are so far from home makes all the difference.”
This year’s celebration, which will take place on May 6, marks the 10th anniversary of Travel Agent Day.
“This year is definitely going to be different, but I have heard from offices that they still plan to do something for TAD reaching out to all agents whether they are still working or have been laid off,” she says. “I plan to keep all agents up to date on my TAD Facebook page so if you are laid off at the moment, please like our page and I will send out anything that I get from suppliers keeping you in the loop. I know that suppliers have been contacting me to let me know they are still on board this year it will just look different given the fact that no booking incentives will work this year.”
Her final message for agents is to continue to be resilient. “I know once the dust settles, we will be back to work helping our clients continue to do what they love, travel,” she says. “We just have to hang in there.”
In honour of Travel Agent Day, Travel Courier and Canadian Travel Press release a special combined issue called Travel Agent Appreciation. Once again, the issue is packed with travel agents from across the country who stand up for their clients every day.
One of these agents is McKenzie McMillan, a travel consultant with The Travel Group in Vancouver, who acknowledges that while the road ahead may seem daunting, he’s confident agents will come out strong.
“I know we are all in this situation now, where we are stressed, concerned about our next paycheque, or maybe lying awake at night wondering why we ever chose to be in this industry, but even as it may seem like there is no hope, or that we may not last through this, just remember that we will,” he says. “We are part of one of the most resilient industries around. We have survived countless global catastrophes, we survived the dawn of internet booking, 9/11, Icelandic Volcanoes, and more. Beyond survival, we have shown that our industry is not only resilient, but also flexible and able to evolve. I’m confident that we will not only survive this, but will thrive, and come out of this better than ever. Even on the darkest of nights, the sun will always rise. We’re in for a beautiful day!”
Now, get ready to get to know just a few of the rockstar travel agents from coast to coast…