BC-Based Agency Tackles Coronavirus With Arsenal Of Innovation
Anna Kroupina, Open Jaw
With a dash of creativity and splash of positivity, one BC-based travel agency is hitting back at the pandemic and the efforts are paying off with a tighter team, better training and – slowly but surely – new bookings.
When the pandemic hit, Burnaby-based Personal Travel Management debated changing their tagline of "Travel – Because You Can" for all of half a second before unequivocally shutting down the idea.
Extolling travel at every turn. Darci Murray’s SUV is decked out in Personal Travel Management’s tagline: Travel – Because You Can!
"Logic tells us it is silly to have a slogan like Travel – Because You Can when you can't. But the overall conclusion, right away, was no. Why on earth would we want to put that into people's minds? You might not be able to travel right now, today, but you can in general and what a blessing it is. Travel is just going to come back even stronger," says longtime travel consultant with PTM, Darci Murray.
Murray's experience in the industry harks back to high school when she was assigned filing duty at the family business. Personal Travel Management, a family-operated business owned by her travel maven mother, Rikki Hepburn, now engages a team of around 35 agents (and psst - they'recurrently hiring).
Darci Murray (left) with her mother, Rikki Hepburn, owner of Personal Travel Management.
Armed with this vision that travel will prosper over COVID, the wheels started turning as to how the PTM team can put the downtime to good use.
Born were the armchair travel videos for clients, BINGO games encouraging agents to obtain product knowledge and agent recipes from around the world, giving clients a taste of travel. Agents are performing site inspections so they can give first-hand testimonials to clients on pre-cautions taking place.
"Our agents have been hosting interviews with suppliers, inviting potential customers to ask top representatives from leading wholesaler companies their personal questions. Agent videos have been encouraged allowing agents to engage in a form of marketing they may not have used before. Heartfelt blogs have been written sharing our passion for the travel industry," Murray says.
"I just became an Aruba specialist, a Belize specialist, a Hawaii specialist. All these things I normally would not have done, I finally have the time to do."
To give back to the community, Personal Travel Management hosted a contest to award a frontline healthcare worker a trip to see the northern lights in Yellowknife.
If Disney is the happiest place on earth, then Personal Travel Management surely is the most positive.
And the efforts are paying off, with eager clients continuing to book future travel, even big trips like a world cruise, scored by PMT agent Philip Beck.
The Personal Travel Management team.
Murray says her clients are glowing with a renewed appreciation for travel.
"What we're finding is that people aren't excited to go on a Mexico all-inclusive. Travel has been taken away from them so they're like, 'Whoa, when it comes back, we want to do those bucket list trips. We don't want to do a weekend in Palm Springs; we want to go to Africa,'" Murray says.
"They're realizing that time is precious and they want to do these things."
The pandemic is changing travel and the role of the advisor in many ways. Despite the uncertainty, it hasn't fazed Murray one bit, nor has it dulled her passion for the industry.
"I have the best job in the world," says the mom of four who, despite a brief stint as a teacher in Hong Kong for six years, has always hustled in the travel industry.
"Travel enhances people's lives. My dad passed away in May. My brothers, my mom and I were sitting in the hospital room with my dad and we talked and talked about all our experiences as a family and all the good times. The memories were flowing, and they were all based around travel. Travel brings people together in a happy way."
Anna Kroupina Journalist
Anna is OJ's newest member and she joins the team as a writer/reporter. She co-writes the daily news and covers events. Although she's new to the industry, pursuing a career path in travel/tourism has been a goal since her first family road trip to the Florida Keys sparked a desire to discover the world and this exhilarating, fast-paced industry.