Jamie Biesiada
Jamie Biesiada

Survive. Revive. Thrive.

That's become something of a mantra at KHM Travel Group, the host agency based in Brunswick, Ohio, as the coronavirus pandemic has progressed.

Right now, agencies are in "survive" mode, waiting to move into the "revive" period, when bookings return, KHM president and CEO Rick Zimmerman said.

Initially, there was a good deal of excitement about moving from "survive" to "thrive," Zimmerman said, but as suppliers started pushing reopening dates further back, it became clear the survival period would last longer than expected.

KHM has been using this time to connect with its 4,800 advisors through personal phone calls and educational offerings, which will help agencies bounce back when bookings do return.

Every week, director of education and programs Bill Coyle hosts Facebook Live videos featuring interviews and insights. There are agent-to-agent panels every week, too, where agents share advice around business issues. And in July, KHM will launch a comprehensive education series to help agents ready for the revival stage.

There are some bright spots on the horizon, said Zimmerman, who noted that Universal Orlando Resort has already reopened and that opening dates have been announced for the Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando and the Disneyland Resort in Anaheim, Calif.

But for now, Zimmerman is advising agents to temper client excitement with what the new reality of what a trip to a theme park, for instance, will look like. All have reduced capacity and require face masks, among many other new health and safety procedures.

"We're trying to make sure that they're covering all of those bases," he said.

He also advised only encouraging travel if a client is truly comfortable traveling.

"For any of our agents who do have domestic trips for their clients coming up, they can see some commissions, yes," Zimmerman said. "So, is it good to push that right now? Well, if a client is ready."

In the meantime, Zimmerman encouraged advisors to use the survival period to train and stay up to date on when suppliers and destinations plan to come back online to be prepared for the future.

"We all do believe that there's going to be that point when people just want to go again," he said, "so we need to be ready."

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