Jamie Biesiada
Jamie Biesiada

The coronavirus pandemic has been a setback for Korrine Johnson's travel agency, Journeys Travel Co. in Orlando.

When your income stops suddenly but you still have to keep working, it makes for a stressful situation, Johnson said. She has channeled her energy into helping clients get the best resolution possible for their individual travel situations, something that will undoubtedly help her business long term.

"I have no fears long term for the future, because I have relationships with my clients," she said.

The pandemic has sparked Johnson to act differently. She used to send several marketing emails a week. Now, it's down to just one, and it's just a personal note from Johnson. It might be Netflix recommendations or tips for working from home. Or, perhaps, she sends recipes from cruise lines' cookbooks. Sometimes it's photos of her dogs. She wants to maintain her personal connection with clients.

Johnson is still booking some travel. Hardcore cruisers want to cruise, she said, and "people are getting restless." In one recent week, she did about $75,000 worth of business. It's mostly for near term, like July and August, when some expect restrictions to lift, or for 2021.

In addition to some bookings (though, Johnson said, it's nowhere near her usual volume), she has had another endeavor to channel herself into: Travel Biz Boss. It's Johnson's consultancy, of sorts, for other travel advisors.

She had the idea for the company around two years ago and started kicking it into gear in the fall, before the pandemic. While it's still in its early stages, Johnson said she's had a lot of interest from other agencies.

"I'm not trying to teach people how to become a travel agent or how to sell and negotiate or market, do their social media," she said. "I'm really focused on how do you turn a one-time client into a lifetime client? Because you're always offering that really consistent booking experience."

All of it surrounds a mantra Johnson has: "Organize, automate, dominate."

She believes that by automating some things, like client communications, she improves the client's experience and also stays top of mind during the time from booking to travel. That, Johnson said, is a key period to make yourself memorable and earn a lifetime client.

For instance, she sends her travelers automated marketing messages pretrip. For a cruiser, they might get a message 90 days, 60 days and 30 days before they sail. It will remind them of things like booking shore excursions, which can fill up in advance; it also saves her having to remind clients about things like that. They'll also get a "bon voyage" email just prior to their trip.

Travel Biz Boss offers two services right now: Consulting and email template bundles.

Johnson said the company is still in its testing phase at the moment. So, for a discounted $499 (the full price will eventually be $699), Johnson will audit and refresh a travel advisor's systems. It includes a "discovery" phone call, sometimes a second screen-share call so she can dig deeper on an advisors' systems and processes, then thorough written recommendations. That often includes things like tutorial videos and links to systems to try. In a nutshell, she tries to make it easy for an advisor to implement new systems. She then follows up with another call.

She is also offering email template bundles for cruise and land travel (these are included for those who opt for her audit). Each includes 25 to 30 email templates and sells for $159. For a limited time, she said, code "we got this" will save users half of that cost on the bundles.

"Now is such a good time to work on that kind of thing, getting those systems set up and ready to go," Johnson said, "because this is definitely going to boomerang and everyone is going to be dying to book travel."

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