Now is the time to support each other and view challenges as just blips in the road, says Arundel Travel director Helen Parry.
Do you remember your first time – taking off in an aircraft, that is? I enjoyed witnessing the shrieks of delight, the laughter and the smiles of a group of children doing just that on a recent flight and it reminded me what a privileged position we are all in.
In fact, it was my first holiday abroad when I was 12 years old that made me want to be a travel agent, and I’ve never looked back.
It can be easy to forget why we wanted to get into the industry, especially when it can feel like the whole world is against us
It can be easy to forget why we wanted to get into the industry, especially when it can feel like the whole world is against us as we try to overcome Covid, cancellations and various other hurdles. I did it because I wanted people to fall in love with the world. I wanted to help people have “wow” moments, to tick things off their bucket lists and to make everlasting memories with their loved ones.
Nothing is impossible
Over the past few months, when we’ve seen crazy airport queues, last-minute changes and long hold times, I think it’s admirable that we have all managed to continue to make people’s dreams come true despite the adversity. We’ve sent our customers to the other side of the world for long-awaited reunions, arranged weddings, helped create sandcastle memories and allowed business people to nail deals by enabling them to shake hands face-to-face. Our customers trust us to do this for them, which is something that should make us all feel very proud.
I think it’s admirable that we have all managed to continue to make people’s dreams come true despite the adversity
Don’t get me wrong, making all of this happen isn’t without its challenges, especially in the current climate. Sometimes the difficult moments stand out more than the highlights. But for me it’s time to move forward and treat these moments for what they are: blips in the road which aren’t impossible to overcome. Nothing is impossible to overcome – some things just need to be given a little more thought to navigate.
[Customers] don’t need to hear excuses for delays in getting quotes back to them – they just need to know that we will have found them a great holiday
When our customers visit us, they don’t want to know there’s a problem without a solution – they want to hear we will sort it. They don’t need to hear excuses for delays in getting quotes back to them – they just need to know when it will be resolved and that we will have found them a great holiday. I know that many will think this is only what happens in a perfect world, but for me it’s possible. I sometimes feel that our positivity has been replaced with negativity and the balance needs readdressing.
Time to be positive
Speaking of positivity, this week my team and I were invited to the 24th Yorkshire Travel Ball. What a night it was! The drinks were flowing and our dancing shoes were on, but the best thing was that we were able to catch up with friends from across the industry. None of us are a one-man band. While we might be competitors in some ways, it’s crucial that we band together and give each other a leg-up to help build back our amazing industry.
The drinks were flowing and our dancing shoes were on, but the best thing was that we were able to catch up with friends from across the industry
We were decimated by Covid, but look how far we have come. We’ve succeeded and are learning to grow again. It’s an exciting time and we need to share this with everyone to make sure we instil confidence, not just with our customers but also with our younger travel generation – those who have the same dreams we did.
Good to nurture keen youngsters
Three years ago, a 14-year‑old girl came into our shop and asked if she could do work experience with us. We said yes, but unfortunately Covid got in the way. Now, however, this lovely girl is doing a college course in travel and tourism and carried out her work experience alongside her studies. She was so fabulous that she has now landed a part-time job with us, and appears to be loving every minute.
We need to embrace these youngsters and show them what amazing opportunities there are in this industry. It can be difficult arranging work experience placements and having an apprentice, but everyone needs to start somewhere, and this has proved the effort can definitely be worth it.