“Inside of a ring or out, ain’t nothing wrong with going down. It’s staying down that’s wrong” – Muhammed Ali
The restrictions placed on the hospitality industry in 2020 were tough, but how would you like to run a travel agency through the COVID pandemic? According to Catherine Mancuso, owner and Managing Director of CCM Travel they couldn’t change the negatives, but they were able to use their experience to refocus the business and are now set up for a better year in 2021.
“You may have to fight a battle more than once to win it” — Margaret Thatcher
CCM Travel is now in its 25th year and has had to face many challenges. Both 9/11 and the GFC presented significant, unique issues for the travel sector. But, with over 35 years of industry experience, Cath Mancuso was able to re-direct CCM Travel resources to ensure she remained the preferred Travel Specialist for the gaming and hospitality industry. COVID has just provided a new set of challenges – solving them follows the same process as previous times by taking pro-active steps to adjust and be pragmatic.
Now, after enjoying an unexpected sabbatical through the lockdowns, Cath Mancuso has said her CCM Travel staff are refreshed and have been working hard on alternate options for the industry.
“All of the CCM Travel team are still employed, and while they have been grateful to receive JobKeeper, some have taken on other projects and roles to broaden their skills, while others have been involved in industry webinars to keep abreast of the continuing travel industry changes that have affected our clients, and others are just enjoying the quality time spent with children and family” said Cath.
“Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass; it’s about learning how to dance in the rain” – Vivian Greene
Even though 2020 was tougher than expected for the travel industry, according to Cath they were busy for months. Thanks to their advanced technology, the CCM team were able to immediately adapt to the new normal of working from home, on Zoom, and other methods of communication.
“As soon as the lockdown hit, the CCM team commenced the process of managing the expectations of their clients. Initially we contacted every traveller personally to discuss the options for existing bookings, preferences to postpone or cancel, not knowing what the future held. We had a 100% success rate in retrieving credits and refunds from airlines and hotels for every one of our customers.”
“We also took on a ‘rescue’ role for stranded Australians trying to get home. Some were existing clients, and many were new clients, but we managed to get every one of them home,” said Cath.
“Keeping in touch with our client base was part of our 2020 COVID plan, but my team were blown away, overwhelmed and very humbled, by the number of people that reached out to us knowing that it was a very difficult year.”
“Energy and persistence conquer all things” – Benjamin Franklin.
According to Cath, one of the strongest results from 2020 was, in a challenged commercial real estate market, they successfully leased out their Crows Nest office space, thus creating additional revenue. They embraced a more flexible working environment, working from either new premises or from home. Remote work was something CCM had been planning for anyway, so the staff were literally able to pack up their laptops and go home without losing one minute of productivity. As a result, the staff adjusted very quickly to a better and healthier work life balance.
“I guess, like many people in 2020, we had the time to re-evaluate how we worked. It has turned out to be beneficial for the whole team, they are refreshed and raring to go for when the borders reopen.”
While CCM has been predominantly focused on overseas travel, 2020 provided an opportunity to explore what is on offer in Australia. Travelling to new regional destinations has planted the seed for many local opportunities for hospitality industry events and provides the added benefit of supporting local business.
“The best way to predict the future is to create it” – Abraham Lincoln.
With fresh ideas and renewed enthusiasm, Cath and the CCM Travel team have already started working on 2021 programs with clients including group programs for Perth, Darwin, Brisbane, Hamilton Island and a few secret destinations.
“We are starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel and are beyond excited to see what new opportunities lay ahead in 2021. There are so many amazing places in Australia that can rival any overseas destination.”
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