I was fortunate enough last week to have been given the opportunity to say "my piece" amongst a total of 50 Victorian Business Owners. Here were the 5 questions asked, and my answers are below. Not all made it in my interview, however, this was because many points were touched by the other business owners.

[DRAFT VERSION ONLY]

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Josh Zuker Travel

℅ Josh Zuker (Director)

  • What has the impact of lockdown been for you and your families

The overall impact of the lockdowns in Melbourne has meant that I cannot spend time with my friends and family members who reside here. However, my parents, who live in Queensland, have been unable to travel to Melbourne as planned for 2021. With regular flights booked, and frequent cancellations, it has made it impossible to secure any plans.

  • How has the impact been on your mental health

The overall impact on my mental health has taken its toll. On the business front, I have been faced with 5 VCAT matters, all of which I have not attended. People just need to understand that the travel industry is a complex industry and that, it is not so easy to undo something that was done. Meaning that refunds and cancellations are something out of the ordinary of which rules must be adhered to. The travel industry umbrella already addressed this many months ago and the State Commission Office also did the same. Travel Agents are in full right to charge fees for their time! It’s simple. People who have chosen to abuse me, and take legal action are in fact harming me and this is something that I am positive they would do to their own family members!

The loss of my entire team members, totalling 10 exceptional consultants and back office team members. Along with the loss of my “bricks and mortar” office space and “virtual” office space. Losing a company is one thing, but also, losing 4 Million Turnover in total revenue for 12 months, and refunding to date 1.8 Million Dollars now is hard to here and each time I do, it brings me to tears!

If you think that is not enough, well, I have also had to shut down all business related social media accounts, additional email accounts and cancel some phone accounts to avoid the constant harassment, verbal abuse, and keyboard warriors.

Overall, this has taken a toll, and it’s the loss of a business/ once was a successful company and now, nothing. From suffering anxiety on a personal front, the confidence on a “successful” business front has been crushed. What the future holds for me in the careers/ workspace is unknown.

I have never known people to “abuse” people on a verbal and emotional front. I never thought that an industry like travel would result to people treating you, sending you letters of demand, and filing court hearings against you. Seeing your name on a piece of paper that is somewhat legal, is a “kick in the guts”. I have been used to seeing my name in lights and being praised for the hard work I do, not this. This is something different.

  • What are the losses you have suffered (cash/personal assets/super)

I have lost a year and now, a bit of salary/ income from a successful business that once was. I have been able to make some money from my superannuation, however, only when the government has permitted this. I had to sell my personal home to pay back debt, however, this was not enough still. Living in debt and still finding myself to explain to lenders, etc, the situation has now become a joke. More to the point that companies have decided to use the excuse of COVID-19 to rationale their reasonings of bad credit ratings. Seriously! Beyond pathetic.

  • What will happen to your business if lockdown continues

Lockdowns not only destroy the person sole and their families. Though, lockdown means that businesses will suffer because there is no economy to sustain them. Lockdown will mean a full closure of my company and that means that there will be no one around to manage the refunds (when they are paid), and credit notes (that remain valid). To date, I personally have approximately 120,000 worth of credit notes which are good as a piece of toilet paper (so to speak). With constant lockdowns, these companies will not be around much longer either.

  • What support do you want from the government to help them survive (cash injections, taxes waived, rents paused etc.)

A new version of Job Keeper is to be introduced because, like many businesses, many are still working for free. No matter if it is (when possible) to maintain a shop, restaurant, or the likes in preparation for the weekend trade - travel agents are working online, around the clock in the hope to help their clients. Though, the reality is that more time is being wasted on their own money on utilities to attempt. Working for free means ZERO income. Zero income means that those bills and financial obligations are not able to be paid!