KHM Travel Group’s Response to the COVID-19 Impact on Travel
Written by: Amanda on March 30, 2020
In good times, travel advisors are hard at work bringing travel dreams to life. They are double-checking that flights are on-time, answering inquiries about dietary options at a certain resort, and ensuring that each vacation expectation is met.
With the impact of COVID-19 on travel plans, travel advisors are working just as hard to keep their clients’ dreams of travel alive. More than ever, they’re asking travelers to put their faith in them and in the travel partners like cruise lines, tour operators, and resorts.
As a host travel agency, it’s KHM Travel Group’s goal to keep the dreams of our independent travel advisors alive as the industry adapts and revives itself. In the past few weeks, we’ve made every effort to adapt to the needs of our agents to instill in them (and future travel advisors!) the confidence that this storm will pass.
Transparent and Constant Communication with Agents and Suppliers
We first addressed the impact of coronavirus with our agents in a Facebook Live on February 17.
Since then, we’ve used an internal Agent Portal page and our agent Facebook pages to provide updates on the supplier statements and policies. Our Director of Education & Programs Bill has implemented a regular Facebook Live schedule for the time being, to communicate the COVID-19 policy highlights from the past few days and give our agents an increased sense of connection with the KHM Travel Group team.
To assist with bridging the communication gap between supplier and our agents, we’ve worked diligently to set up exclusive webinars with Cruise Lines International Association, our travel insurance suppliers, and other key players to expand agents’ understanding of how best to work through their bookings and their businesses.
A Focus on Advocacy for Travel Agents
Our Supplier Relations, Agent Support, and Education teams have made communicating with travel suppliers a priority every day. We realize that our agents’ guidance to their clients is only as good as the information provided by suppliers. We have been diligently updating on Facebook and our internal Agent Portal with the COVID-19 policies and information that matters to them.
We’ve been fortunate to be able to rely on the strong relationships we’ve built with top travel suppliers. In this time of constant policy changes and cancellations, this has allowed us to be a part of the dialogue with suppliers and go directly to them with questions and concerns from our agents. These two-way conversations have not only led to resolutions for specific bookings, but to changes that are in our all of agents’ best interests.
Moving Forward Responsibly
A large percentage of our agent base is new to travel. Understanding that this may be a daunting time to grow their travel businesses, our Membership team has begun reaching out individually to agents that have started in the past 6 months to a year. The goal is to gauge their individual circumstances and provide an additional touchpoint for them to get guidance from us. If needed, we have been able to temporarily waive membership fees for agents that need financial relief.
Our leadership team has made a few difficult decisions to alleviate unnecessary burdens on our agents. Our Crystal Conference is our premier annual event each year, in which we celebrate our collective achievements. This year, we’ve decided to cancel the conference so that agents can put their time and money towards themselves, their families, and their clients. This will also allow us to shift our focus to expanding the virtual learning opportunities we offer agents.
Encouraging Positivity Through Our Community
Travel has slowed, but future travel planning hasn’t come to a halt. By empowering our agents with dedicated resources on savvy communication to their clients and promotional graphics to share, we’re helping to keep the strong reputation of the travel agent community in the eyes of travelers.
In terms of community, one positive initiative we have rallied around is #KHMTrashTag. This initiative started by our charitable wing, KHM Cares, encourages others to get out of their homes for a few minutes and clean up their neighborhoods. For every photo posted to Facebook and Instagram with #KHMTrashTag, KHM Cares will donate $5 to the United Way COVID-19 Worldwide Relief Fund.
We Are Here to Support the Industry We Believe In
While we may not always have all the answers, the message has always been the same: Agents, we are here for you. We have kept 100% of our team members working from home so that we can continue to serve our agents to the best of our ability. From Agent Support to Commissions to our Tech Team, we are working together to ensure our agents and the industry are stronger in the end.
Our team is grateful for the faith our agents have put in us and for each of these opportunities to serve them. We are holding our Core Values closer than ever as we move forward together in this unprecedented time for travel.