Helloworld’s Kelley Matson on mental health, service fees and why agents are like ducks

Helloworld’s Kelley Matson on mental health, service fees and why agents are like ducks

Since kicking off Helloworld’s new Training Academy in April, Kelley Matson has been busy, to say the least.

As Helloworld’s national training manager, Matson was approached by the brand in March with an appealing prospect: a grand plan to attract talent back to the travel industry.

Since then, Matson has turned the academy into so much more, from teaching valuable lessons about mental health and wellbeing, to how to articulate the value of service fees.

“It was our CEO’s initiative, really, to help our agents. The plan was to invest in them via this academy and give them the support they need to rebuild,” Matson told Travel Weekly. 

The initial focus was to work with agents across all of Helloworld’s networks of over 1,200 agencies, including the branded network, the associate network, Magellan, My Travel Group and the business travel networks, to help them with staff, whether it be bringing people back or looking for fresh talent.

“I really wanted to be part of the rebuild of the industry, but more specifically, Helloworld,” she continued.

“Because I believe in the business, I believe in the franchise structure and I believe in the resilience and the strength of retail travel.”

For the first three months, Matson’s main goal was to get new recruits their cert three, but she soon realised there was much more she could do to bring more value to her agents.

She developed a series of modules alongside the cert three called The Master Classes, tackling things like explaining products and destinations, how to connect with the customer and earn trust and articulating service fees.

“How do you connect with people quickly? How do you understand their needs? They had basic selling skills, but they needed to understand the sales process from a travel perspective. You’re selling something that’s intangible,” she said. 

“So I’ve been running some sessions across all the networks called Fees and Income 2020 and Beyond, which is really about articulating your value as a travel agent or advisor.”

In this module, Matson helps agents articulate what they do and explain why clients should pay for their services as opposed to going online.

“Sometimes you just need to explain to the customer what it is you actually do. It’s as simple as that,” she said. 

Matson’s passion project, though, is teaching owners about positive mental health and resilience, which she said has been well received.

“It’s about helping them to understand why they’re feeling the way they do and how the brain works in responding to stressors and what they can do to counter that,” she told us.

“They’ve just been through so much and now have to continue through the bounce back.

“I look at the agents like they like ducks. They’re paddling so fast and so calm on the top and so confident but you know, there’s so much going on beneath the surface.

“So anything I can do to help take that pressure off them in any way I can, through helping train new people, through giving them some skills to cope, giving them some tools to grow their business; that’s my mission.”

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