The 5 Gifts Travel Advisors Received from 2020
By: Sandy Saburn, CTIE

There is no doubt that 2020 will be written in the history books as a plague on the travel industry. When things look incredibly bleak it is hard to see anything positive, but there is always something good in the midst of the bad. I want to end the year looking at the good things to come out of 2020 that are unique to the travel industry. I am spotlighting 5 gifts travel advisors have received from this crazy year.

 

  1. Clarity about what you want in your business
  2. An increased focus on fees
  3. Time to work on processes and systems
  4. Better understanding of the benefits of virtual meetings
  5. A frank conversation about how we work with suppliers

 

Clarity about what you want in your business

I hope you have taken the time to do some soul searching about your business and really focus on what you want it to be like. Do you have clients you love? Are you booking what you want to book or taking whatever comes along? Are you running your business or is it running you? This is the perfect time to get clarity about all these things. Some agents have even realized they have fallen out of love with their business and it is time to move on. That is OK! You shouldn’t keep doing something just because you’ve always done it. More advisors are seeing that they can use this time to revamp and improve to make their business better suit their own needs. This year has been the perfect time to get clear on what you really want from your business.

 

An increased focus on fees

Fees have been a hot topic in the travel industry for years. Many embraced the concept and added a beneficial revenue stream to their business. Others were hesitant to “go there” but have now seen the light. It is unfortunate it took agents spending many, many, many hours earning nothing to realize the value of their time. But the bright spot is that the majority of travel agents now say they will be charging fees consistently across the board. As they should! You are a service provider and should be compensated by your client for your time.

 

Time to work on processes and systems

The time to work on improving your workflows has truly been a gift to many. How many times have you been in the midst of wave season thinking, “When I have time I am going to come up with a better system”? Well, you got time this year! These quiet months have been the perfect window to look at what is working and what isn’t. We have seen so many people really dig in and set up workflows that are going to make their 2021 easier and more profitable! If you haven’t done this yet, there’s still time. You will be very thankful when bookings resume in earnest.

 

Better understanding of the benefits of virtual meetings

Many advisors can significantly improve their businesses by not limiting themselves to their own communities. Working with clients in other states can be just as easy as working with someone “local” and can dramatically increase your pool of prospective clients. Now that consumers are more comfortable on Zoom and other platforms that allow you to meet virtually, this should continue to be a tool you use regularly in your business. Virtual events are performing very well for many advisors and will continue to be a key part of their marketing strategy. Expand your marketing to reach people all over the country who are your ideal client!

 

A frank conversation about how we work with suppliers

The travel industry is long overdue for a change in the way agents and suppliers work together. The commission structure of today is grossly unfair to travel advisors. I hope the conversations that have started this year will continue, and meaningful change will be made. I particularly applaud ASTA for the focus they are putting on this issue. They have written a position paper that will make the system much better for advisors if adopted. If you aren’t a member of ASTA, please join! They are the ONLY voice travel advisors have in Washington and our state capitals and they have fought hard on our behalf. If you want to support that work, donate to ASTA PAC.

 

One more benefit to this year that isn’t exclusive to the travel industry: More time with our furry friends. I cannot tell you how many people I know who adopted dogs or got puppies and kittens this year! I think the next boom industry might be dog therapy to treat depressed dogs when the humans go back into their offices! Meanwhile, the cats will have a party because those pesky humans are out of the way!

With just 15 days until a new year, I hope you’ll spend some time thinking about the benefits of this year and carry those forward into 2021. We can leave all the negativity behind and focus on making 2021 the best year possible.