Ever since the coronavirus pandemic began, travel agencies have been forced to examine their businesses under a magnifying glass and, in some cases, get creative to make it through to the other side.
A number of agencies plan to start, or have already started, charging service fees to bolster revenue streams. Many are carefully evaluating supplier relations to ensure they are investing in their most profitable relationships. Still others have turned to temporary jobs, like selling homemade masks or working in a grocery store.
New York-based Embark Beyond has introduced several initiatives to continue working with clients through the pandemic, like organizing summer camps in clients' backyards.
Last week, Embark announced its latest initiative, another great example of an agency pivoting in difficult times: Embark World Academy.
The program provides school-age children with virtual extracurricular experiences from around the world.
Jack Ezon, founder of Embark, said many schools in the U.S. have opted to cancel their traditional extracurriculars, like sports, clubs and activities, due to Covid-19.
"We decided it would be a perfect time to bring the world to the home, while also introducing kids to new passions from a global perspective," Ezon said.
Embark is offering more than 25 semester-long activities, including jewelry-making from Colombia, sustainability from Africa, pastry-making from Paris and fashion lessons from Italy.
The agency has partnered with its hotel partners around the world, who have curated local instructors. Additionally, Ezon said, Embark has partnered with Alan Cohen, co-chair of Harvard's Principals' Center Advisory Board, who will meet with each family to help set up students' experiences. He has worked with each instructor and added skills to their classes, as well.
"This way, a cooking class becomes a fun and engaging way to teach math and language," Ezon said. "A fashion marketing class develops writing and reading, while art infuses history and even science."
In-home teachers can also be set up.
Most classes meet once or twice a week for eight to 12 weeks via Zoom. Clients can opt to include up to five children in the classes. Prices range from $750 to $4,200 per class.
If students want to meet their instructor, the activities include either a complimentary invitation to stay at a property or a "friends and family" rate, Embark said.