A group of agents have found an alternative way to earn money during the COVID-19 pandemic, with a little help from their national partnership office (NPO).
As many agents struggle to find their feet in this travel-halting global disaster, a band of Victoria-based TravelManagers personal travel managers (PTMs) have been given an opportunity to try their hand at something new to make some much-needed cash.
A supplier told staff at the agencies’ NPO about an HR firm seeking home-based contact centre staff, so they quickly alerted PTMs who rushed to get in their applications.
Before they knew it seven PTMs were offered roles within the call centre team, providing support and advice to Victoria-based businesses on anything from COVID-related government grants to understanding the rules of running their businesses during the lockdown.
Lyndy Burston (pictured above), who is TravelManagers’ representative for Werribee in Victoria, has just completed her first month in her new role and said she is loving the fresh challenge.
“I have very been grateful for the chance to help out my fellow Victorians during these uncertain times,” she said.
“The work has kept me occupied and gives me a sense of purpose – I actually feel like I am doing my bit for the community by helping these people.
“Although I am looking forward to a time when we can get back to what we do best, booking inspirational travel experiences for our wonderful clients!”
For the PTMs, the new work was not without its challenges – they were taking customer calls within 48 hours of finding out about the roles. However, Burston pointed out their experience as PTMs has served them well.
“It was very much a case of ‘learn on the job’. Although the work itself isn’t difficult, it is a matter of knowing where to find the correct information,” she explained.
“Our time with TravelManagers helped with this: we are well-accustomed to researching products and getting to grips with the intricacies of airfare rules, and we are well versed in the need to have things in writing.”
The call centre team of 420 temporary staff similarly impacted by COVID dealt with more than 18,000 calls in their first four days.
Burston’s fellow PTM, Nicole Gardner, agreed that she benefited from the similarities between the call centre work and her work as an agent.
“As a PTM, my focus is always on the customer experience and ensuring that I am on the same path as my client,” Gardner said.
“The call centre work revolves around the same expectations: providing the best possible service and support, being able to find and deliver the correct information in a timely manner and knowing who to ask for assistance if you need it.”
Jodie Quigley, who is TravelManagers’ representative for Sunbury in Victoria, also credited her experience as a PTM for developing the customer service skills that have been essential to her success in the contact centre role.
“We were definitely thrown in the deep end, but being able to empathise and relate with businesses that are doing it tough, and being able to handle the pressure created by such an immense number of calls over the first couple of weeks, made a big difference,” she said.
As well as providing some welcome income, the PTMs also welcomed the chance to work with their colleagues: “being the tight-knit family that we are, it feels a bit like home,” Burston said.
“We have even formed a group chat so that we can assist each other – just like we do as PTMs!”