It is all possible!

Business Takes Off Again but the Workforce Aren’t Checking in

Julie and Leonie from My Travel Expert have been to hell and back over the last 4 years – with COVID shutting down their business and decimating not just their workforce but the industry as a whole. The good news is, they are back and better than ever. 

Leonie recalls when it all started: 

“When the Prime Minister closed the doors of the airports on March 20, 2020 – he also closed the doors of our business.” 

Cracks began to form in December 2019 when the Asian market was first to be affected and we all know what came next but while the rest of us were battling for toilet paper, Julie, Leonie and their remaining staff member Daniel, were battling for credits and refunds on customers booked holidays. 

For 18 months they did this, waiting on hold for hours on end and copping more than their fair share of verbal abuse. They made no money but tried to recover other peoples, they accumulated rental debt and eventually fought to get out of a lease they could no longer afford. 

Relationships were the glue that held them together, the Shoalhaven Business Chamber made space for them in their office before a fellow BNI member ‘Trustel’ took them in until they could get back on their feet. It also took more grit and determination than most people could muster. 

By June 2022 they were ready to look for a new place to call home and opened an office in Kinghorne Street in March 2023. Today, bookings are back to pre-covid levels (if not better) with the customers they fought hard for and the broader community, returning to support them. 

“Many who booked holidays online and couldn’t recover their money are eager to utilise the services of a travel agent that can go into bat for them if things go wrong.” 

“We use Australian based booking services for that reason.” 

“People are also wary of the fake sites and scams out there and want to know they are booking something legitimate,” said Julie. 

Others want to draw on the experience of experts said Leonie: 

“Between us we have over 100 years travel experience, we’ve had the privilege of traveling the world, we get to know our customers, so we know what to recommend and we’ve got access to great deals,” she added. 

With business booming again Julie and Leonie face a new challenge – 75% of the travel agency workforce decimated and not wanting to return to the industry, whilst they have been reaching out to those with experience who have pursued other career opportunities in the last 4 years, they are also now looking at recruiting from other industries looking for people with transferrable skills and a passion for travel, whom they can train.  

“If you love getting to know people, helping them achieve their dreams by traveling to bucket list places, then this could be the right direction for you,” said Leonie. 

“No two days are the same and handing over an itinerary that you’ve carefully crafted feels so rewarding.” 

“Not to mention the perks you get – being invited on ‘famils’ to experience places firsthand,” added Julie. 

The sisters have been in business together for 13 years; after saying they’d give it 10 before retiring: 

“We can’t be around forever but we are keen to pass on what we know and see that our loyal customers are looked after well into the future,” they noted. 

Thinking about a career change? Check out our ‘transferrable skills’ to get you started; https://thinkregional.com.au/reflections-transferable-skills/ 

 

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