Name: Michael Kroeker
Business: Bonaventure Travel
Where do you live? Winnipeg, MB
How long have you been a travel advisor? 8 years
What is your specialty? Corporate and luxury FIT travel
What has the COVID-19 pandemic taught you about yourself and the travel industry?
This pandemic has taught me a few things. First and foremost, it taught me that I needed to slow down. Prior to COVID-19, business was booming, and I was on pace to have the best year since buying the agency. This pandemic has put a lot of things into perspective and shown me what really matters in life; it’s not just about work.
I’ve also learned how strong I am as a person. Being a relatively new agency owner, there has been a ton stress from dealing with employees, the business finances and just trying to keep it together during these crazy times. Lastly I’ve learned that most people are good. My clients have been so understanding, supportive and encouraging over the past few months.
What has been your biggest challenge during the pandemic?
The biggest challenge is really the unknown. We don’t know how long this pandemic will last, will there be a second wave or will they find a vaccine anytime soon? Trying to forward plan and recover from this is challenging as you aren’t sure which direction to go at the moment but I do know there will be a pent up demand for travel.
What challenges lie ahead as the travel economy gradually re-opens?
One of the biggest challenges I see once things resume is air lift. The airlines have taken a beating through this and will they have the proper lift in place get our clients to the destinations they want to travel too when the time comes. Once the hotels, cruise lines and tour operators resume, will we still have as many options to get our clients to the destination?
What does the travel industry need to do restore consumer confidence?
I firmly believe that the safety protocols that are being put in place now will need to become common practise going forward. Clients need to feel confident and know that they will be safe for years to come, not that things are a short term solution.
What other travel trends do you think may emerge from the COVID-19 crisis?
I think that we’re going to see smaller group sizes for sure, clients are also going to be requesting private programs and more personal experiences so they can be away from the crowds.
What's one good thing that has come out of this situation?
I was able to connect with family and friends as I had a lot more free time. It was also good for me to take time for myself and focus on my health and well being for a change.
What advice do you have for travel advisors who are struggling during this tough time?
Stay positive, I know it’s been tough but you have to keep a positive outlook to get through the day. As well, you need to continue to be in front of your clients, give them a call and see how they’re doing. I wouldn’t be doing any hard selling, just keep you and your agency top of mind with your clients and let them know when things resume you’ll be there for them.
When border restrictions are lifted and the risk is low, where are you travelling first?
I will either be heading back to Asia, specifically Thailand as that is one of my favourite places on Earth. The other destination might be Europe, I would love to get back to do another river cruise.