Gayle: Tell me about your business and when you started it.
Katherine: I own a travel agency called KBR travel group and I started it two years ago. I book luxury travel for families and couples traveling anywhere in the world.
Gayle: In the past two years, have people really been traveling anywhere in the world?
Katherine: No. They have been traveling domestically and to spots like the Caribbean, Costa Rica, and Mexico, primarily, but now in 2022, they’re going more to Europe.
Gayle: They’re going to take the plunge and everything.
Katherine: Yes, they want to leave and they are tired of delaying their plans.
Gayle: It must’ve been pretty hard to grow a travel agency during a pandemic.
Katherine: Yes, but In other ways, it was a good time for me to learn, take my time, and do a lot of training and research.
On the other hand, it was 50 times more difficult because of all the COVID restrictions and how everything changes on a daily or weekly basis going into different countries, especially now with vaccination rules.
For instance, on January 21st, Spain decided that you have to have a booster shot if you’re an American to come into Spain. I have a group of 24 people going into Spain and September, so now I have to notify them and let them all know they must have a booster shot to go there.
Gayle: And that’s even been domestically like in New Orleans and New York.
Katherine: Yes, It all changes based on children’s ages. In Washington DC this summer, kids ages 12 and up must be vaccinated to go into restaurants and other spaces. So it’s affecting a lot of the big cities.
Gayle: Didn’t you recently win an award?
Katherine: As a matter of fact, I did. I was welcomed into the president’s club for Andavo travel, which is my host agency. It was the top 10 advisors, out of 150 for the company.
Gayle: It’s kind of awesome for somebody who just started a travel agency two years ago.
Katherine: I was pretty excited and yes, I mean, given the conditions of the world and being able to sell enough travel in the last year, I was pretty excited.
Gayle: It’s pretty awesome. I know somebody at home is proud of you.
Growing The Business
Gayle: What do you think really helped you to grow your business in like challenging time? You’re up against a hundred other agents who probably started their business well before the pandemic, What tools did you use? What do you think really helped you to grow during that time?
Katherine: Well, I think that, honestly, it wasn’t even my Facebook presence. I think it was my Instagram presence that has helped a lot because I probably get anywhere from four to eight inquiries a week from Instagram, although it’s usually not a complete stranger. It’s usually a friend of a friend.
By keeping up with my Instagram and posting regularly, either stories or posts has kept me very busy, with just that little network of 1600 followers. A lot of it was people in the community being aware that I’m a travel advisor and I don’t think it matters how many travel advisors are in our community, because everybody has an aunt or an uncle or a cousin taking a trip. There’s plenty of vacationing to go around for everybody.
Gayle: Now you’re starting to get your footprints in areas bigger than Birmingham.
Katherine: That’s right. I’ve had a lot in Texas, a big group out of Charlotte, some North Carolina, also get a lot of business out of Atlanta, and I’m lightly in New York, but that all comes from referrals like if I booked a trip to Greece for somebody and then they tell their friend about me. Its a big referral network.
Gayle: So what you’re trying to say is that it’s not about the technology, but it’s about how awesome you are.
Katherine: No, but the technology was free advertising, Instagram and Facebook was a free platform to advertise with and to talk about travel.
Well, my time was not free and it is very time-consuming. It’s like another child to take care of.
Gayle: In 2022, what are your marketing goals?
Katherine: Gosh, that’s a good question. I need to do a better job of sending emails and getting a good email distribution list because I’ve been using Instagram the way most people might be using an email distribution list. I also probably need to gain some more followers on Instagram while it’s still a popular social media platform… but I WILL NOT get a TikTok account. I don’t care what anybody says. I will not TikTok.
I feel like as long as I keep up with what I’m doing, the people who want to learn about travel will pay attention to what I’m posting.
From a business standpoint, I need more help. I need an assistant at some point this year to help lower my stress level.