We recently caught up with Kelly Ledger, from Mobile Travel Agents, who kindly gave us an exclusive interview:
Tell us about your work
I run and own a travel agency for corporate, leisure and groups. I take the hassle and stress out of planning travel. I also have access to inventory due to relationships I have built over the years that other agents may not.
How did you get interested in being a travel agent?
My background is actually in events and marketing. I was always booking travel for events and was frustrated at the level of service I was getting. I also love to travel so it seemed like a great new career path!
How is a mobile travel agent different to a regular one?
I can come to you when suits. I have organised many family vacations at people’s dinner tables, places of work etc. I also travel myself frequently so this means I can go and look at what a client is after saving them the legwork. I also get to know my customers well and understand who they are and how they like to travel. I think especially when you are meeting someone in their own environment it’s easier to see who they are.
I recently sat with a couple and it was obvious that the wife wanted to go to Fiji and the husband wanted to go to Hawaii. I suggested an itinerary where they did both and it was within their original budget. I also found them a rate after I quoted them that included a few extras so they were overly happy!
What’s the coolest place you have visited?
Without a doubt Lifou. It was a port on a cruise I did with my husband and kids last year. The fact that the kids played for hours with the local kids even though they spoke a different language. I’ve stayed in some amazing 5-star hotels in my time. But culture and experience will always win hands down.
What’s the best way to get an upgrade?
Generally, loyalty wins with this one, so always fly with the same airline. It’s not a hard and fast rule but it’s probably the most common we come across. Being nice to the check-in staff always helps.
Can you describe a typical day?
I am generally at my desk most days at 8 am. I try to get out and see as many clients as I can during the day. I am often at an agent training or a supplier event getting product updates or doing site inspections.
Occasionally but very rarely, I need to fix or assist with something for a client. This could be down to emailing them a map or directions to something they may have seen that they hadn’t booked and decided at the last minute they want to see. It may be organising last minute tickets to an event. Recently I have been concentrating my time on creating digital content such as videos to show people exactly what I’ve seen.
What’s been the highlight of your career so far?
Randomly meeting Sir Richard Branson. I remember watching him on breakfast TV thinking to myself how cool it would be to meet him in person. I finished a heap of meetings earlier than expected and went to the airport to get an earlier flight as I missed my family. I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw him board the plane! As he walked through the plane I jumped up and asked for a selfie. I knew if I didn’t I would miss the chance. It was like all the stars aligned and I got my photo.
Life lesson: Always go after what you want and don’t be afraid.
What do you love most about what you do?
I love making people happy. I love making their plans easier and stress-free. I’ve been very fortunate to see most of the world at very little cost due to being invited on study tours and the like. I’ve also been fortunate enough to go to places that are not generally open to the public and meet some amazing and intriguing people. So many people have said I’m lucky to have met so many famous people. It’s actually some of the more left-field people I have met along the way that are way more intriguing.
Who or what inspires you?
My grandmother had the most amazing way with people. She always had a way of making people feel important and she always instilled in us that you treat everyone the same. I remember meeting a homeless man in New York. He was opening the door at a McDonald’s store for tips. I didn’t have any cash on me at the time to give this man so I bought him a meal using my card and invited him to sit with me. He told me how he had been a stockbroker on Wall Street and had lost everything in the GFC. He had never managed to get back on his feet. People say don’t talk to strangers, but everyone has an amazing story in them. This was his.
I remember years later hearing someone call my name in Monaco. I turned around to see this man well dressed. He was the homeless man from New York! He was on his honeymoon with his wife. He told me that what he struggled with living on the street was that people were always dismissive of him. Sometimes all someone needs is to be treated well and he said that changed him. A few months after we met he had gotten employment and got his life back on track. The beauty of this story is that he has now become a regular client and sent me so many customers. I always read my kids Horton Hears a Who by Dr Seuss “A person’s a person no matter how small”
My customers also inspire me. I take the time to get to know them well.
Do you have any predictions for travel?
I think there is going to be a massive shift back to people using traditional agents. While the online market has seen a surge. People are finally starting to realise the value in agents. As a rule, I don’t price beat. There are retail agencies out there with agents who have barely left the country advising clients where to holiday. While I haven’t been everywhere in the world I have extensive experience in most destinations.
I sadly am seeing a lot of people book online and then when things don’t go according to plan I get the call to help. Unfortunately, when it’s not something I have booked I can’t do a lot. I’ve sadly had to re-book people where hotels have oversold and the voucher they have had isn’t worth the paper it’s printed on. Or I’ve seen people book flights themselves and not realise that luggage wasn’t included.
No one wants a nasty surprise on a holiday. Sadly, things do go wrong from time to time. But if you have booked with a good agent they will assist the whole time.
What’s on your travel bucket list in Australia?
Uluru and Arnhem Land. I can’t believe at my age I haven’t seen some parts of Australia.
Do you have any plans for the next 12 months?
I have invested in a lot of landing pages and domain names. I have a few new projects I’ve been working on to disrupt the industry. Watch this space!
About MTA Travel
For more information or to book your next holiday head to Kelly Ledger’s Mobile Travel Agent page: http://agents.mtatravel.com.au/kledger