Like most entrepreneurs, I have long term goals and a long term plan. I have taken the advice of many forecasters and focused on the big picture so as not to become discouraged in these economic times. But it seems I have focused on the horizon so intently that I neglected to keep an eye fixed on the short term economic picture. That is until I came face to face (or rather voice to voice) with my host’s short term expectations. I just haven’t been producing as much as they’d like. I was not meeting their expectations or my own. You know the old adage about not being able to see the forest for the trees? Well last week, I became victim to the reverse. I could see the forest just fine. It was the trees I didn’t see coming.
Group travel is my specialty. Group cruises are the vast majority of my bookings; and I work with a lot of non-profit organizations and alumni associations. These types of groups plan their trips years in advance. With payments coming in constantly, the commissions are not. My group bookings are doing fine and my prospects for more are better than I projected; but this type of booking can be a labor intensive time vampire, leaving little time for marketing to individuals traveling in the near future. I am confident these groups will result in long-term recurring bookings and will be worth the wait; but in the meantime my host wants to see some return on their investment. They want it now and quite frankly, so do I.
This was not an easy thing for me and during the week I went through all the classic stages of grief. First, there was denial. This couldn’t be happening to me. My host isn’t calling me on the carpet are they? There must be a mistake after all surely they must understand how difficult the economy is right now. That’s all the media talks about. The travel industry like every other facet of the business world is in trouble. Then I was angry because I thought they might be questioning my work ethic or worse yet, my commitment to the industry considering my “roots”. I wondered if the other ICs were being questioned this way.
Next, I did some reasoning. After all there are other hosts out there. Surely there must be one that would not be as demanding, right? If I started now maybe I could find one that perhaps didn’t have such impossibly high standards.
I was depressed for a couple of days. After that, I threw a pity party for myself. Luckily for me, I got tired and called it an early night.
Finally I accepted the situation. I got off my pity pot and got back to work. I recognized I needed more prospects in these times of uncertainty. Sure I need to specialize and I really need to focus on that specialty; but I haven’t been marketing to the individuals who have traveled in my groups as effectively as I should. They’re my clients too! And if I take good care of them individually I will come closer to meeting the expectations of my host and creating a wider income base for my business. And, I might even get another group out of it in the future.
My host and I will be renewing our contract. There will be a slight change in the monthly fee I pay for the services my host provides me. They haven’t lost faith in me but they do have a business to run and a bottom line to deal with, just like I do. I learned a lot from my experience last week. I came back to the realization that my host isn’t unreasonable. They’ve been supportive and encouraging on all fronts. And as much as that phone call hurt I guess I needed to be reminded that the forest is made up of trees…lots of them. And I had better start paying attention to them.
Nia Frieson is the owner of LK Cruises and Tours, LLC based in Washington, DC. For more information, you can contact Nia at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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