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“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
This well-known quote, spoken by revered American poet Maya Angelou, has long resonated with travel advisor Karen Hinton Beasley.
So, when the COVID-19 (coronavirus disease 2019) pandemic began impacting her clients’ travel plans, Beasley began sending out condolence cards with an upbeat message to let them know she was thinking of them.
“Although clients understand the situation at hand, they feel a sense of loss,” Beasley said. “I received a phone call from a recipient of the card — she was in tears. She said that she has received cards from her vet on the death of a pet, from funeral home services and from her church when she missed a few Sunday services, but no one has sent her an ‘I’m sorry your vacation is postponed’ card.”
Beasley is just one of many travel advisors working overtime to maintain and grow relationships with clients during this difficult time.
But what has been so unexpected for many agents is the way that clients are also reaching out — unprompted — to show care toward their agents, too. When the staff of Northstar Travel Group’s Global Travel Marketplace (GTM) event asked members of GTM’s public Facebook page for their “silver linings” during this difficult time, they received an influx of stories about superhero clients: those who went above and beyond to show an extra level of care and appreciation for their vacation planners.
Here are a few of our favorite tales.
“We had an elderly client call and donate his United Airlines points to anybody who needs help getting home. Every day, we see small kindnesses.” — Shelly Ramirez, travel agent specialist at Norman, Okla.-based Michelle’s Destinations
“Yesterday, a client for whom I book personal travel walked in. He’s the vice president of a local bank (of which I am not a customer, and whose corporate travel I do not currently handle). He just wanted to ask how I was doing. With complete sincerity, he asked if there was anything as a company the bank could do to support my business. He asked if he could prepay for travel vouchers for when they inevitably travel. I was so moved by the kind gesture; my heart nearly burst.” — Rita Sickmeyer, owner of Sparta, Ill.-based EZ Travel
“I've been surprised by some of the phone calls I received from clients who wanted nothing more than to check and see how I was holding up. Some of these guests appear to be all business with me, typically. But to have those guests call me has shown me I am appreciated.” — Jill LaBarre, owner and founder of Highland Beach, Fla.-based Jill’s Great Escapes
“All of my April and May 2020 river cruises have been rebooked — along with extensive pre- and post-cruise arrangements — and every one of my clients has insisted that I send them a bill for my time.” — Eva Holguin, owner and operator of Houston-based Planet Honeymoon
“My clients are realizing just how much they need a travel advisor, and they are sending such sweet notes of encouragement, including: ‘I’m not sure how we could have ever done this without you.’ Those little notes are keeping me going.” — Kristen Jobe Buckshire, owner of Erlanger, Ky.-based Travel Ease, LLC
“I am still dealing with emergency returns from all over the world, and my clients are so grateful. One of my regulars emailed me a $500 thank you gift. I don't think Expedia is getting any of those.” — Bernard Bacle, travel agent at Club Adventure in Ottawa, Canada
“The number of people who have shared our business page, reviewed us or told their friends about the positive experience they had with us has been mind-blowing. I truly believe this will be life-changing for our industry and make believers out of anyone who used a travel advisor — and maybe flip former do-it-yourselfers.” — Julie Lanham, owner and operator of Evans, Ga.-based Vacations to Remember
“I see how people are coming together to support each other. I’ve received several emails from clients asking how I’m doing, thoughtful posts on Facebook and positive feedback that they will all be traveling after this has passed.” — Heather Bing Howe, owner of Minneapolis, Minn.-based Travel By Heather
“My silver lining is the hope I get daily in the form of phone calls from clients not wanting to cancel, but just to see how I am doing and if they can do anything for me. These calls restore my faith in humanity.” — Jesse Morris, manager of Richmond, Va.-based We Book Travel