Last Updated on March 1, 2021 by tripcentral
COVID-19 has ground bookings in the travel industry to a near halt. As such, our revenue stream to support our store locations has also stopped.
It became apparent that our physical store locations, something we have been quite proud of, have overnight turned from assets to liabilities. The cost of these retail spaces, the associated occupancy costs, and required staffing levels made no sense for the current business environment. Recovery is far away and uncertain, and for this reason, it is more efficient for our agents to work from home.
Luckily for us, sales transacted by “walk-in” customers are a small fraction of our business. The vast majority of our clients deal with us through our website, and by phone or email with our agents.
Most of our agents were set up at home long before the pandemic. It was convenient for nights, Sundays and holidays when our store locations were closed but our website still active. As a result, this transition was not difficult.
Prefer to deal “in-person” with an agent? Appointment system coming.
We are adapting our business to offer our customers the ability to easily make appointments with our agents – either one they know and has dealt with in the past or who have been referred by other customers. These appointments could be phone calls or video calls with screen sharing. A 2019 survey we did showed that almost half of those who booked in person would be willing to do a Zoom, Microsoft Teams, or FaceTime type of meeting with an agent. We suspect this is higher today after our lockdown and these technologies are used more and more, even connecting families and friends during this time.
We will also feature the ability to book an appointment with an agent who is near to you – there is still a familiarity of dealing with someone local, even if there is not a physical office. And for those of you who know our agents well, the new approach to business will free them up to spend more dedicated time with you without distraction in the retail location.
You should notice no difference
Many of our customers at one time have visited our office but then dealt with our agents and website without ever setting foot in an office again. We have many local customers that drive by our locations, and it will be odd to see them shuttered or for lease.
Know that all our customer information is stored centrally and securely, and our agents working from home are doing so with the same access they had in our locations. Our locations were “rooms” in a central house, and so there will be no difference in the service we deliver.
For those wanting to pay other than on a credit card, we have an option to pay via “bill payment” through your bank that will somewhat replace cash, cheque, or Interac. We are also migrating our gift certificates from paper to electronic.
Thank you for taking interest in our business and rest assured we are ready to help with your travel plans when you’re ready.
Please take a moment to read our related article on where your tripcentral.ca Travel Agent is during the pandemic.