By: Sandy Saburn, CTIE

The statistics I continue to see for current sales in the travel industry are mind-blowing. It’s nothing to see travel advisors with sale increases of 100%, 150%, or even more. That’s not over pandemic sales levels, but over 2019 numbers, which was a banner year for the travel industry.

The reality of that growth is a lot of really tired travel advisors who are sitting at their computers for long hours, staying on hold for vendors – even while they are in the shower (seriously, I have seen multiple posts of advisors saying they shower with their phones on speakerphone, so they don’t miss it when someone comes on the line), and are struggling to keep up.

Of course, it’s not sustainable in the long run, but things will inevitably level off. They always do.

In the interim, many of you are just trying to serve the demand. After nearly 2 years of very little sales most travel agents aren’t going to say no to anything. I get it. Really.

Long term, you have to have a plan for how you are going to manage this new level of business – or busyness.

That means you need to do some strategic planning.

But you don’t have time right now.

Or do you?

I think you can incorporate strategic planning in small ways into your day right now without having to close the doors or turn off email and phones.

The place to start is with the Strategic Planning Worksheet. I created a template for you to use to get started, but feel free to do this in whatever format works for you.

There are 3 areas of the Strategic Planning Worksheet:

  1. What’s working
  2. What’s not working
  3. Dream big

 

I encourage you to keep this worksheet either open on your computer or if you are using pen and paper, keep it handy. The point is to update it often. Chances are, that this will only be seen by you, so use it in a way that makes it easy, not a burden. Neatness does NOT count!

Here are some examples of what you can document on the worksheet.

Let’s say you are in the midst of something you love doing, jot it down under “What’s working”. That could be itinerary planning, social media, or a hundred other things. Just jot it down.

You could also have a client that you love working with. Make notes under “What’s working” about your ideal client.

Of course, not everything is going to go well and that’s why there is a “What’s not working” section. You might put things here like, “spending too much time creating itineraries.” Or maybe, “need to have email templates – keep writing the same things over and over again”. Anything that is a pain point, write it down. You don’t need the solution – just write the problem.

Finally, there is an area called “Dream Big,” as I am a big believer in dreaming big. What if you could wave a magic wand and have your ideal business? What would that look like? Maybe you just jot down things like, “more luxury trips” or “more commissions with commas” or even “only work 4 days per week”. If you dream of it, write it down.

When you are on hold waiting for assistance from a vendor, you can pull it up and jot things down. Once you get in the habit of using it, random ideas will pop into your head throughout the day, and you can jot them down and then keep moving with your day.

The key to success is to use it. Always keep it open and jot down random things. You might write the same thing three or four times. That’s great because it shows you something is either a real opportunity or a big problem.

For many people, using a worksheet like this can make strategic planning exciting because you have a long list of ideas and things to act on, rather than starting from a blank page and wondering, “how do I actually start strategic planning?”. When you are ready, make sure you schedule at least 3-4 hours (preferably longer) to sit down with your worksheet and make a plan. Treat yourself to lunch in a great restaurant, go to a park, or even while you’re on a trip – all of these are great ways to do strategic planning!

The key is to make it a priority. Use the worksheet to record thoughts, dreams, and issues between planning sessions so you are most effective.

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