We can all agree that 2020 has been tough for small business owners. With this in mind, we recently ran a competition allowing our small business community to share their stories. We have heard stories of courage, strength, stamina and motivation. We thank our entrants for taking the time to inspire our small business community with hope and reassurance during these unprecedented times.
Congratulations to the winner of our Fight Back Competition, Allan Hopper, founder of hopperound – The Travel Agency. We celebrate the positive spirit and dedication of Allan Hopper, founder of hopperound – The Travel Agency.
Allan has two strong passions in life, and that’s people and travel; hence the birth of hopperound, a personable travel agency with a big heart for its clients.
Allan and his team pride themselves on their ‘start to finish’ customer support which they conduct for each individual client. They support their clients throughout their entire journey, right from the moment they pick up the phone to propose their travel dreams, through the planning stages, during their travels, right up until the moment they return.
It’s this style of customer support that has had him successfully run his agency purely through word of mouth and repeat business. “We go to great lengths for our clients, so they don’t have to do a thing – besides enjoy their holiday,” said Allan. “I am proud to say as a result of this, we have had the same loyal clients for over 20 years.”
When Covid-19 hit our shores in February-March 2020, panic set in within the travel industry. Today, approximately 30% of travel agencies have sadly closed due to an immense loss of business.
Allan went from having an extremely busy and profitable period around January and February to receiving absolutely no income in the following months. “In the middle of March, when reality sunk in, everything fell apart,” he explained.
With a heavy heart, Allan had no choice but to let go of his contractors and his Head Office Accounts Manager, who also happens to be his sister. Together, they cried. “This is when it really hit and it was at this point, we thought we will take a big hit. But we also thought it would all be over as quick as it began,” Allan said. Like everyone else, Allan had no way to predict the extent of the pandemic and how long it would stick around… Today, we are still uncertain.
Once the shock subsided, Allan and his sister turned to light-hearted humour to keep their spirits high and Allan chose to switch his mind to planning mode and started to look towards the future.
Allan decided to restore hope in clients and others within the community by creating a social media presence to keep the travel bug alive – virtually. Allan took to Instagram and Facebook to provide his audience with beautiful travel images, tips and stories, and as a result, his online following grew, a great boost for brand recognition.
“Although travel agents are not currently booking a huge amount of travel, we are still working full time for our clients,” said Allan. “I have been spending a huge amount of time helping my clients get credit or their money back from various holidays that they have had to cancel.”
You can imagine the stress involved in contacting various vendors all over the world and the amount of money lost for those who did not engage a travel agent. Allan’s loyalty had him working above and beyond to ensure the best outcomes for his disappointed clients.
Today, Allan is working on his marketing strategy and thinking of a brighter future. “I foresee travel agencies becoming a much bigger necessity going forward, similar to what it was like before we were replaced by online bookings,” he said.
After the scare of a pandemic and the millions of dollars lost by travellers who have had to cancel bookings through major companies who have not addressed their woes, a travel agent seems like a very safe method of booking travel going forward.
There’s no doubt travel will be a more complicated and much stricter process once all borders have opened. It’s inevitable that the majority of us will feel a sense of comfort being supported by professionals in the industry who will ensure our arrangements are conducted safely and accurately. If anything happens, it will be reassuring to know we have a familiar agent on the phone who will help us during any situation, like Allan and his team at hopperound.
Allan has had to undergo big changes in his business and inject money, time and energy towards planning, marketing, training and webinars to ensure he is ready for the next big shift that is predicted to occur. Hopefully this will be a positive one.
Going forward, those clients who love to book online – activities, cars, cruises, flights, hotels, insurance, tours etc. – will be able to do so via our website, with the security of having their bookings backed by an accredited travel agency. The same professional service will apply, meaning when things don’t go according to plan, we step in to help.
Within this current climate, if you don’t have a flexible and open mind, and if you are not willing to change and grow, you may as well throw in the towel.
For now, Allan has changed his slogan to keep the motivation and dream alive for himself and his clients. He signs his emails off as:
“Allan Hopper I Founder
hopperound – The Travel Agency
Hibernating, Reinventing & Dreaming of Travel.
“Be Safe, Stay Connected & Dream With Us.”
Should you wish to travel to any destination where it is safe to venture in the near future, we highly recommend you contact hopperound. Allan and his team will have your back from start to finish.