Virtuoso Regional Director for Australia and New Zealand, Anthony Goldman, says the COVID-19 crisis and travel retreat presents a time for travel agencies to streamline their businesses, if they haven’t so already.
Speaking on a panel during last week’s Virtual Virtuoso Travel Week, Goldman said, “Now’s the time not to be afraid” in making changes and “making hard decisions”.
Goldman, who is the Joint Managing Director of Goldman Travel Corporation, was one of six Virtuoso regional director panellists questioned on the current challenges facing the luxury travel industry by Virtuoso Group GM Strategy and Managing Director for APAC, Michael Londregan.
Goldman told Virtuosos that “shrinking” their businesses as much as possible now, was necessary “so you can come out hero later”.
“The base of your business and the value of your business will always be there. The number one assets are [your] people and the knowledge that we have, and nobody and no virus can take that away from us.”
He said one of the biggest challenges facing travel advisors at the moment is “staying relevant and finding real ways to stay connected with clients,” adding that Goldman Group is actively finding ways to stay in touch.
“We are doing a lot of work in connecting with our clients, finding reasons to talk to them, like Wanderlist, and really continuing to communicate our value as their travel advisor for when they need us.”
Similarly, Virtuoso partners are encouraged to maintain awareness with travel advisors to remain relevant.
Goldman said his agency was still receiving messages from suppliers in Mexico, Los Angeles and London – all markets that Australians are currently unable to travel to due to border COVID border restrictions.
“What they are trying to do is continue the human connection we have with them and really understand their ongoing proposition.”
“There’s not that much talk about Michelin star restaurants. There’s a lot of talk about safety. But really, we just want to know that they are still there and they are going to be ready to welcome our clients back,” Goldman added.
Fellow panellist, Helena Andren, MD of Travel Beyond and Virtuoso Regional Director for EMEA, said the biggest issue for clients wanting to travel now is not the fear of getting ill, but the concern about getting stuck in a location because of their quarantine requirements. She said another current issue is supplier deposit, down payment and cancellation policies.
“I find most suppliers are doing it bit by bit and not thinking long term. I think this is going to go on much longer than initially thought and that’s the biggest challenge today. Getting the clients to take the leap and confirm.”
To view the full panel discussion, click here (and jump to 6:55).