The global pandemic has had a devastating impact, even on the most experienced travel agents.
But with the right support, resources and business model you can take the edge off the pain and be ready for travel to return.
Making the switch to a mobile travel agent business, like MTA – Mobile Travel Agents, could be just the ticket to get you through this trying time.
You may be familiar with the business model, which allows you to retain ownership of your clients, the flexibility of working independently wherever and whenever you choose, and the support and benefits of working with one of Australia’s major agencies.
However, did you know that while most MTA advisors are home-based, some still choose to operate from retail shops?
A few advisors who used to be owners of bricks-and-mortar’ agencies have joined MTA to take advantage of its award-winning support offering and exclusive deals without having to deal with overheads such as high rental costs, lots of administration and, in some cases, managing staff.
One such agent is Berry-based Shayne Earley, who has been able to concentrate on her client’s refund and credit needs without having to have to keep her agency doors open.
Travel Weekly caught up with Earley to find out if she would recommend making the switch to mobile at this time.
“Most definitely. I was able to concentrate on getting my customers home and, with the help of MTA head office, process refunds and credits,” she said.
Earley said the nature of MTA’s business model has made it easier for her to get referrals and stay in contact with her clients.
“I have had several new bookings since reopening, but not all of these have been generated via the office,” she said.
“Some are clients I have in Sydney and other areas who book with me as a mobile agent and via referrals, not just because they live near the shop in Berry, NSW.
“We have very strong relationships with our clients, so explaining refunds, credits and losses to our clients has not been as hard as explaining these policies to clients who just walk into the shop and have a less personal relationship with you.”
Earley said the extra support from MTA’s head office throughout this period has been wonderful.
“They have kept us all updated on changing supplier and airline COVID-19 policies, helping us in difficult situations where clients are not happy with a credit over a refund,” she said.
“They have also waived our fees due to the reduction in income all of us have experienced and provided information on JobKeeper, JobSeeker and other grants available to our industry that we might be eligible for.”
Earley said the MTA training team has put together webinars with suppliers so advisors can continue to learn and keep updated with new products.
“And they are there if we just need to talk or vent on a really bad day when you just want to cry,” she said.
“They care, and it has really shown throughout this pandemic. I will always be forever grateful for all their support.”
MTA has even pulled together special domestic offers for its advisors to share with clients.
“I’ve found the longer the pandemic has gone on, the more people are rethinking travel and now starting to plan domestic trips for 2021 and international for 2022,” Earley told Travel Weekly.
“Those who would never have thought about travelling domestically before are now reconsidering and looking on it as a great opportunity to see more of this beautiful country.”
MTA has released a special ‘Our Australia – Revive Collection’ focused on domestic products through new relationships with local suppliers and negotiating exclusive deals.
The company is also taking advantage of its affiliation with the Virtuoso luxury travel network that gives MTA advisors access to loads of bonus amenities like late checkouts, food and beverage credits, spa credits, room upgrades, and other fantastic value adds.
“Being mobile does give us the ability to work at home and continue to work in travel and top up our income with another job until our borders are open,” Earley said.
“It’s also an opportunity to upskill and increase our domestic travel knowledge, and a chance to get things in place so you can be ready when travel recovers.
“We have just as many resources available to us with MTA as you do in a bricks-and-mortar business, but without the costs and we have much more flexibility.
“I’d say to agency owners or expert travel advisors who may have lost their job in travel, pick up the phone and call one of the MTA business development managers to have a confidential chat about what is possible for you.
“It is worth thinking about becoming a mobile agent and using the skills and experience you have built up over years. Once travel comes back, I think we’ll be busier than ever!”
To find out more about becoming an MTA advisor, click here.