Comment: Expressions of gratitude can make a huge difference

Agents facing double or triple the work with extra Covid checks, says Aito Agents chair Gemma Antrobus

On October 10, we had World Mental Health Awareness Day, which served as another sharp reminder to all of us to not only take care of those around us – family, friends and colleagues – but also to take care of ourselves.

After 19 months with very few breaks, I’ve started to realise that my own mental health sometimes rests in the minute details of everyday life and can very easily be knocked off balance.

But on Friday, I enjoyed a wonderful boost to my mental health. Having spent weeks trying to secure a booking, I finally got the client’s go‑ahead for a significant-sized holiday, for travel in the not‑too-distant future. It was just what I needed after another exhausting week. I felt elated, overjoyed and ready to conquer the following week.

The client in question is a loyal one and was always serious about the booking from the inception, but in this new, post-Covid world, you just never know if something will spook a customer before they go ahead. All the additional tests, forms and regulations are enough to make even the hardiest traveller contemplate staying home.

But in this case, the numerous late-night workings, communications with all parties travelling and revisions involved were finally all worth it. What truly melted my heart, however, was the gratitude expressed by all members of the group, who could see just how much work was needed to organise their trip. Their effervescent and grateful thanks were almost over the top, but were genuinely what I needed after 19 months of feeling completely battered by the pandemic experience.

The power of thanks

Now don’t get me wrong, all my clients are grateful for the work put in when planning their holidays, but there is still an element of trepidation and nervousness when it comes to taking that first trip, so their response when their holiday is confirmed is not quite the same as it used to be and therefore you don’t always get that ‘confirmation buzz’.

There are also the numerous calls and visits that travel agents face from those who like to do everything themselves, yet for once do not have all the answers. These can offer opportunities, but not everyone is reasonable or can understand how things have changed. Last week, I had a phone call from a lady who had booked flights direct with a low-cost carrier, then berated me because I wouldn’t guarantee that her passport was valid for travel. Just one of these calls is enough to ruin your day.

It’s been discussed previously that the hand‑holding and additional checks are double or even triple the work they used to be and many of us still have only a fraction of the workforce. So how do we continue to stay motivated, positive and eager to help when some of us are just absolutely exhausted, both mentally and physically?

How far we’ve come

I’m no expert but, when some days are more challenging than others, I do a few things. First of all, I reflect on how far I have come, remembering I can’t change the past, only the future. I look back at how much I have withstood and with so little help. This makes me immensely proud, as I never knew that I had this level of resilience. I then thank my lucky stars for the unwavering support I have had from family, friends and our amazing industry – you have uplifted me, inspired me and kept me going on the darkest of days.

I’m also eternally grateful to my wonderful clients and our local community who, even if they haven’t been confident enough to book a holiday, have sent words of support and encouragement and seem genuinely thrilled that we are still in business, despite it all. I’ve learnt that a few moments of gratitude make a huge difference to my attitude.

As a very wise lady once said: “Be thankful for what you have and you will end up having more. If you concentrate on what you don’t have, you will never, ever have enough.”

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