I am almost hesitant to discuss threats to your agency or travel practice. Most of us too easily imagine all the possible perils that await at every turn. It keeps us up at night. Worse yet, threats can cause even the most stalwart travel agent to do the worst possible thing – nothing. Threats have a way of making business people pull in their resources and withdraw from the marketplace. The value of a SWOT analysis, however, is to recognize threats ahead of time and to counter weaknesses and marshal our strengths so that we can not only exploit opportunities but can counter, prepare for and diminish threats early on.
Threats are external to your agency. They might come in the form of a new competitor, a bad national economy or conditions that are completely local to your community. A terrorist attack anywhere in the world would be a threat as it might keep people from traveling. A resurgence of swine-flu is a threat we all face this fall. Any of these events or circumstances would threaten an agency’s ability to exploit opportunities, to grow and prosper.
However, each of these threats also suggests a course of action. New competitor? Let’s look at how we can better market. Bad economy? Adjust our marketing strategy to fit the mood. Threat of terrorism or swine flu – sounds like a public relations issue to me – let’s better educate our community. Taking action is the key to confronting and dealing with threats. We have identified our strengths – let’s use them in defense of our travel practices!
Over the past week we have examined the components of a SWOT analysis for travel agencies. This type of exercise certainly is a pre-requisite for laying out a marketing plan, but it is also a good way to check on progress throughout the year, to benchmark whether your agency has properly approached opportunities or shored up weaknesses. Further, circumstances change throughout a year – new opportunities arise and new threats emerge. Pulling out the SWOT analysis and revising it quarterly is a good idea.
The real value of a SWOT analysis is the opportunity it affords to closely examine your business, to work on your business instead of in your business. Examining the opportunities and preparing for the threats, dealing with weaknesses and remembering where your strengths are to be found is an invaluable exercise in planning.