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Lessons from a travel agent to parents home schooling their kids


Travel agents get hit, pick themselves up, get hit again and repeat the whole process, often to little praise. It’s a lot like being a parent. So here, I take a page from their book and apply it to home based learning.

Travellers Choice members recently got together (virtually) for their Member Meetings and their MD was impressed with how they were “remarkably positive, proactive and stoic" about their prospects.

 

I read this while my five year old, normally in her first year at school, muted herself in the middle of her class Zoom to tell me that the ball her AFL mad teacher was holding was actually a Melbourne soccer ball. 

 

Our dining table is covered in laundry, our breakfast bar is strewn with art supplies and “treasures” my daughter has collected on our bush walks, our living room contains every. single. toy. she owns (but can’t put away because she’s playing with all of them — and if you think lego hurts underfoot, try stepping on a steel tiddlywink), and our fridge is full of “here, just eat this so I can have a meeting without being interrupted for five minutes” snacks. 

 

I need a bit of that travel agent positivity and stoicism right about now. So I’ve decided to take tips from those who have taken a hit from Day 1 (many of whom are surviving home based learning too).

 

YOUR CLIENTS AREN’T ALWAYS RIGHT

They’re the ones who complain about wanting to wind the plane window down for fresh air, or dislike all the Italian food in Italy. These clients come to you claiming to know it all and you have to smile and nod and politely tell them that no, they can’t drive from Honolulu to Hawaii. Patience and acceptance get you through.

 

I hear “I know! I kno-ow!” at least twice a day. I thought I had at least seven more years before being hit with the moody teens, but when I’m showing my daughter her sight words and she convinces me she absolutely knows how to spell them, I have to admit I get a sense of satisfaction when she makes a mistake. 

 

Just as you would never tell your clients that they’re wrong to their face, I try to scrimp together some tact when later telling my daughter that there is little harm in reviewing something she already “knows”. The satisfaction you get when they correct a mistake is well worth it. 

 

CHANNEL CHURCHILL

Travellers Choice MD Christian Hunter said that member agents will be encouraged to “follow Winston Churchill's advice and 'never let a good crisis go to waste'”. Agents have a unique opportunity to position their businesses to where they want them to be post-pandemic. 

 

And there are definite positives to home-based learning. Before lockdown, I had to rely on the accounts of an unreliable five year old witness to gauge how she was understanding something. Now I can see for myself and adjust accordingly. 

 

How often do we bemoan the sometimes appalling teacher to student ratios? Now that my daughter is learning from home, she has a teacher all to herself (most of the time). She is also not held to the same time constraints of school so if her fancy takes her to do a bit more art or sport we can follow that. Yes, I’m working into the wee hours, but the attention I can lavish on her makes up for the exhaustion.

 

EXPERIENCE IT

Travel agents understand the value of a trip to the place they are trying to sell. They learn more about it and can sell it with more passion. Rather than trying to teach my daughter the concepts of mass and capacity, we can make muffins and bread. And like travel agents, we understand that the classroom can be the whole world and our daily walks are just as important as her daily maths lesson. 

 

DON’T GIVE UP

"One agent I think perfectly captured the general mindset when he said, 'we haven't come this far, to only come this far',” Travellers Choice MD Christian Hunter shared. 

 

Being positive is tiring. When a travel agent has had a hard day, I would often see them at post work functions, relaxing with their colleagues and remembering that the world is worth exploring. 

 

So when Friday (or Tuesday) rolls around, forgive yourself. Be kind to yourself and your kid and remember that this too shall pass. And a little bit faster if everyone gets vaccinated.  

 

For more information on Travellers Choice please visit www.travelagentschoice.com.au.

 

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Published: 26 July 2021


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