Donna Phillips takes us behind the doors of the travel industry in 20/21
2020 looked like it was going to be an incredible year. Travel was thriving and exciting, with travellers experiencing destinations all over the world. I’d previously spent decades working in the travel industry designing tailored travel experiences for my clients to all seven continents and forward planning for 2020 was like no other year.
Then the Pandemic hit. It was unbelievable, I went from enjoying an industry, where everyone was always happy and excited, to working in overdrive just trying to get my clients home, then trying to secure refunds and credits for future bookings. It was heartbreaking and chaotic all in one. But I couldn’t give up. I have very loyal clients whom I equally feel loyal to, so I’ve spent the last 18 months booking domestic travel, as well as helping other agencies who have very sadly had to close their doors and needed someone to look after their clients. On top of that I’ve taken a second job in the fashion industry to feed another of my passions, until travel becomes my number one again.
I won’t lie, it’s been tough. The joy of the industry seems to have temporarily disappeared. When working in travel, I spend long hours researching everything, making sure all arrangements are watertight and I put contingency plans in place. As an example, I had 70 clients I booked to travel domestically in the June/July 2021 school holidays, then border closures happened and 68 of them were affected! Working with them all around the clock, we changed flights and hotel bookings several times, as we tried to dodge the restrictions. In the end, only 2 clients were lucky enough to travel this time, whilst the rest have postponed. The lucky two had the most amazing time in the Northern Territory. When I received messages from Brisbane airport boarding their flight as well as photos from their walk around Uluru and then again from their helicopter overlooking it, I realised why I still do what I do. Though challenging; using experience, knowledge, and passion, I’ve learnt to deal with COVID restrictions and booking conditions and do so now on a daily basis. I’m passionate about taking this stress off my clients and I realise I can still make dreams come true.
I believe I can help even more in the future; it’s only a matter of time before international travel will happen again and already things are starting to change. I look forward to, again, talking to my clients about the destinations they are travelling to; giving them first-hand knowledge of a city I’ve been to or a hotel I once stayed at; handing over their documents and messaging them during their holidays to see how their trip is going.
In the future I would like to support travellers navigate the intricacies of travel restrictions as I keep my finger on the pulse and to help find sustainable companies to travel with and properties to stay at.
We have all of this ahead of us and I can’t wait to help people, once again, make amazing new travel memories around the world. Travel is my number one.
Donna Phillips has travelled multiple times with Chimu Adventures and has been a big support for her clients and industry peers during the most difficult of times. donnaphillipstravel.com.au
For more stories behind the scenes from people in travel read more on the Chimu Chat