As the travel industry reels from the impact of COVID-19, the close bonds that bind the Travellers Choice network together are once again proving invaluable, with members using the private Facebook group, TC Connect, to share advice, encouragement and practical support.
Among the hundreds of messages posted by the group’s members, one stood out as encapsulating the cooperative spirit that has long defined the award-winning group. It read:
“This is just a shout out to say that if I can be of assistance to anyone please let me know,” wrote Kerrie Walker from Y Not Travel in Melbourne. “As my business is not as large as some Travellers Choice offices, we are pretty much on top of our urgent changes and cancellations for now. I read really quickly, so happy to help make sense of any rules/waivers etc... Or if you just need a listening ear or virtual shoulder to cry on, contact me.”
Walker says she made the offer because she could see fellow agents were struggling to find accurate information, especially when circumstances were changing at “a rapid rate of knots”.
“I've been running my business for 15 years, so I have a fair bit of experience, and I just wanted other Travellers Choice members to know that I’m happy to help resolve any issues, if they are running out of hands.
“It’s about helping people maintain that sense of calm and letting them know that we'll get through this together.”
While the majority of advice and information concerns ticket waivers, cancellation fees and government shutdowns, some members are using TC Connect to lift their fellow agents’ spirits. For Gemma Smith from City Beach Travel & Cruise in Perth, that means shots of the glamourous shoes she’s wearing to work each day.
"Shoes and handbags are my thing,” says Smith. “And with it being all doom and gloom out there I thought a photo of a fabulous pair of shoes would cheer everyone up. I'll put another pair up tomorrow.”
Travellers Choice Managing Director Christian Hunter says the group’s culture has long been revered as one in which members “share and care for each other".
“Nevertheless, even I’m surprised at how, during such an exceptionally difficult time, so many agents have taken the time to help their fellow members solve problems and stay up-to-date with vital information,” says Hunter. “The message it sends is clear: if you are a Travellers Choice member, you are never alone.”