The Monday Minute is a weekly feature at PAX dedicated to highlighting the movers, shakers, leaders and rule-breakers in Canada's travel agent community. Wanna be profiled? Wanna nominate someone? Email firstname.lastname@example.org!
Name: Melissa Mackey
Business: Travel Chicks
Where do you live? Spruce Grove, AB
How long have you been a travel agent? 15 years
What is your specialty? Helping solo females find friends to take epic friends with. Our specialty is pairing people up to send off on fun adventures, cultural trips and, of course, destination retreats!
What lessons has the COVID-19 pandemic taught you about yourself and the travel industry?
The pandemic has caused me to seek other ways to generate money online for the agency, primarily through partnerships and affiliate marketing. It's also taught me the importance of client and industry relationships, keeping them informed and up to date using email marketing. I've learned that it's important for me to show up, especially on video and it makes my clients feel great when I send them audio texts or text messages. The importance of connection is key to building relationships. The pandemic has also created space to learn the importance of funnel building using click funnels and how to position yourself as the expert in your field, which I am now so super inclined to help other agents do the same thing.
What has been your biggest challenge during the pandemic?
Staying focused on the client and keeping them engaged along with keeping the motivation and inspiration of my team high. It was tough during the first few months of the pandemic because I was on a high with my team after I spoke at Western Canada's Travel Marketplace event, going from being fired up about the travel industry...to live events being shut down two days later. One of the things we love doing every month is hosting live events, sharing travel trips and tips for the public and getting to know our clients. It's been hard to engage them online.
What challenges, do you think, lie ahead as the travel economy gradually re-opens?
The biggest challenges I see are being able to stay current and up to date with ever-changing policies, guidelines & procedures. I also see travel agents sliding below the radar if they don't consistently post and show up on social media and email marketing. We must revisit why we got into this industry and share this story always with our clients online and through social media. It's about building consumer confidence and perhaps that means we, as agents, must also begin travelling and documenting our journey as we start seeing the world again. Sharing this documented journey on all platforms. People don't buy what you're selling - they buy you!
Tell us about one good thing that has come out of this situation.
One great thing is that I have been able to share my knowledge and wisdom on various online platforms and webinars to keep agents inspired and remind them how much their story matters. The best thing that has come from these meetings is my give back to the community through a Social Media Travel Agent Challenge I created (click here to learn more). It begins October 13th. The more we can find ways to work together, partner and collaborate, the higher the chance we will create a resurgence in travel and not simply a recovery.
What does the travel industry need to do to restore consumer confidence?
Have one main go-to website or app that keeps track of country's guidelines, entry requirements, masking and policies so that the traveller has no fear or is not surprised when they arrive to a certain destination. Airlines and tour operators should also all have a COVID coverage to help restore consumer confidence.
What other travel trends do you think may emerge from this situation?
I believe that smaller, more intimate groups will begin travelling more frequently. This is amazing because at the end of the day, humans crave connection and through these more intimate groups, people will be able to form more meaningful, and deeper connections with newfound friends.
What advice do you have for travel advisors who are struggling during this difficult time?
Revisit that first trip you took that helped form your decision of why you got into travel in the first place. Revisit why you love helping making other's dreams come true. Share the stories, the travel tales, the testimonials, the experiences you've encountered and how travel has truly transformed your life and your perspective.
When travel restrictions are lifted and the risk is low, where are you travelling first?
Mexico for a few months for sure.
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