When a phenomenon like COVID-19 appears and changes the world around you, it can be hard to see a path ahead, let alone understand the best way to react to the new forces in play.
Kerith Hulme, a Gold Travel Counsellor, is topping the South African sales leaderboard in 2022 after successfully reinventing her business during the pandemic.
Hulme said she had done maybe two or three leisure bookings before she joined Travel Counsellors.
She previously focused on group bookings, school tours and MICE travel, but now she has built a winning premium leisure holiday specialisation.
“At each stage of the lockdowns, I focused on sharing what would inspire people, especially when the lockdown was still novel and I knew that people were living online and that social media was booming,” said Hulme. “I spent a lot of time doing training online – TC products, destinations, suppliers, etc.
Packaging options And as domestic and then international travel began to open, I packaged options and shared offers of where people could go. I got a lot of enquiries from this, and then I spent time making sure that each client had a good experience, no matter where they were travelling. Those clients began to refer me to other clients, and it started rolling from there.”
Hulme commented on the way Travel Counsellors was in the background to help her find her feet, with ‘coffee chats’ and systems training. “For me, the most incredible thing about being a TC is the other TCs – globally. Everyone is so happy to help and someone, somewhere, can always answer your questions. The community is incredible! “TC has made some great suggestions that will allow me to grow my business while offering both services. I have in mind what I would like to specialise in and will slowly start working on that plan over the next few months. I believe the sky is the limit and I’m excited!”
Hulme’s advice to others in her position: “You have to be able to change your focus to move with the trends and do what can be done. If I had remained a ‘MICE agent’ I would have no business now. I have stayed on top of global travel trends and, while it’s not easy with the additional restrictions on South Africans, the demand is there and clients want to know what’s popular, even if only for a few years’ time.
Keep clients close “My biggest piece of advice would be to stay close to your clients in case they have changing needs, and change your offering for a while. And, even if it’s not your end goal to sell SANParks, for example, if there is a demand and your usual destinations aren’t working, then work with what people want. Don’t be scared to do this! Clients who experience good service for a small booking come back with big bookings. Being active and present on social media is free, apart from a little time spent, but there is a huge market to tap into. “Personally, I focus on staying positive and informative on my personal and business pages. I see so many agents posting negative comments about clients/suppliers on their personal pages, or politics, and sometimes potential clients see this and they remember.
Do you find yourself in a position where you need to change your focus and move with the trends and now do what can be done? If you become a Travel Counsellor you will never be on your own and you will be supported by an incredible head office support team as Kerith has already indicated. You will also become part of a global community of like-minded travel professionals who will go out of their way to form friendships and who will share their knowledge and offer advice. If you would like to explore what your future as a Travel Counsellor could look like then please get in touch with us we would love to chat with you.