Travel insights from Rick Zimmerman, President & CEO, KHM Travel Group

Community Through a Crisis

As I think back to the beginning of this year, I recall several conversations with travel advisors who felt 2020 was going to be a year of big break-through for their business. Like many of them, KHM Travel Group also had exciting plans for 2020 including rolling out new in-person events and celebrating 15 years in business. 

March 3, 2020 marked KHM Travel Group’s 15th anniversary. Less than two weeks later, the travel industry changed in ways that we won’t fully know until we’re in the new “normal.” The story of how COVID-19 has impacted the travel industry is still evolving, but fortunately we all play a key role in shaping it.

We’re all a part of an interconnected travel community and what we do now impacts each other. Working together involves the sharing of knowledge, but it’s also about emotional relief and support. As the crisis emerged, I witnessed with pride and admiration people on our team come together with our travel advisors, suppliers, and industry partners. No one had every single answer, but what we did have was the ability to take care of each other. Through Facebook Lives, webinars, and Zoom calls we’ve stayed connected as much as possible, supporting our travel advisors more than ever. In times of social distancing, being able to see familiar faces (even if through a computer screen) is critical for maintaining that relationship. 

Will we look back and think of how our perseverance got us through these long weeks of frantic phone calls and countless policy updates that we memorized? Will we say that got through it together and are better businesspeople because of it? It’s likely too soon to know these answers for certain.

What I do know is that with a plan–even one that changes as the tides of this pandemic turn–you’re more likely than not to be a part of travel’s next chapter. Your initial plans and priorities were likely addressing urgent needs. Things like getting in touch with the client that was set to travel in the coming days, working to secure future cruise credits for the family that was ready to take their Spring Break vacation, or maybe rebooking your own personal trips.

After the initial wave of activity around supplier cancelations and servicing the immediate need of your clients, it’s important now to make decisions that will set yourself up for the long-term. The steps you can take should include thoroughly researching the financial options available to you, ensuring you’re utilizing all the no-cost resources from your host agency or suppliers, sharpening your product and destination skills, and identifying the longer-term needs for your business.

Among the many takeaways from this pandemic, what’s been most clear is the need to have a strong community – people and partners that you can count on for real-time information, service, advice and support. Your long-term success will require you to have access to education and supplier programs, sales and marketing tools, reliable technology, and other resources. Use the time you have now to evaluate your business and find the best people and partners for your business.   

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