During the early days of COVID-19, Kerry Cleasby was busy repatriating clients from Europe and elsewhere.
Borders were closing rapidly, flights were being cancelled unexpectedly and Kerry still had several 18-to 20-year olds in Europe that got caught out by the fast-moving situation.
Naturally, all the parents were concerned but Kerry, a South Brisbane based five-year veteran with TravelManagers, managed to get them onto the last remaining flights home.
Several teary mums joked that they had not realised that Kerry’s job was to make lots of mothers’ cry.
With all her clients safely home, borders closed and passports packed away, Kerry’s business came to a halt. She was kept busy processing refunds and issuing future travel credits for her remaining clients, who were (and still are) cancelling and postponing their travel.
Kerry was feeling very sombre about getting back to creating holidays when to her surprise she received an email from a client who had been booked to walk Spain’s Camino de Santiago later this month.
Admitting to ‘cabin fever’, the client wanted Kerry to start planning a holiday which she could take quickly when the borders reopened.
“My client loves walking holidays and while an experienced overseas walker, she had not explored many of the opportunities available in Australia,” said Kerry.
"She was about to Google what was available but recognised what a difficult time it was for the travel industry.
“So rather than jump online, research and book she wanted to support me and provide me with the opportunity to tailor her ‘coming out of COVID’ walking holiday.”
Kerry started close to home, contacting Spicers Retreats, who she knew were about to launch an incredible five-day walk on the Scenic Rim.
“Spicers’ Director of Sales gave me a great update on all their Queensland products, which properties were open or due to reopen.
“I explored inclusions that I could add to the client’s trip that she would not be able to get by booking online.
“Additionally, and with the help of Tourism Western Australia, I investigated an inspiring itinerary called ‘Australia’s most Instagrammable road trip’ from Perth to Esperance and then added another great walk known as ‘The Cape to Cape’.
“This was just what my client was seeking. She was thrilled and responded with a photo of the itinerary pinned to her vision board.”
In undertaking her research Kerry tactfully explained to each operator that clients are now reluctant to put down money until government restrictions are lifted.
Kerry added that she wanted to assure her client that she could either rebook at no additional cost or obtain a full refund should travel restrictions be reintroduced.
“People are incredibly caring and generous in times of crisis. I have continued to be active on social media and by phone, staying connected and relevant to my clients and hoping to inspire their travel dreams.
“Most people really want to support small local businesses like me and I have been overwhelmed by messages of concern and offers of support.
“I cannot explain the feeling of elation when I was asked to do what I love most about my job, which is creating and designing holidays.”
This article originally appeared in the June issue of Traveltalk Magazine.
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