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Whose sandbox is it anyway?

When you say the word “resilience”, can the phrase “travel agent” be too far behind? If nothing else, we are resilient and able to adapt on a moment’s notice. It has been proven time and time again. Airlines cut and then eliminated commissions and we adapted. Wars, disease, violence and pestilence all impact our business by no fault of our own; yet we rebound.   Apparently we are doing something right.  But, it does seem that each time we turn around, there is another hurdle being thrown in our way.

I am not going to get into it, as it is insignificant, but Carnival has just revised their deposit and payment policies. Yes, it will impact the way we do business. But, as with everything else in this business we will adapt.  We don’t have a choice!

While sometimes it makes us feel better to whine and complain, it rarely does any good. How many people remember the uproar over the elimination of airline commissions? Did it change anything? The latest battle cry has been on the Non Commissionable Fees (NCFs) and we can see how far that has taken us.

Hypothetically, if someone called up your agency and told you how to run your business, would you listen? Act? Probably not. But the customer that does that does have a choice. They can do business with you as you do business; or they can leave. It’s simple really. You own the sandbox and have invited others to play in it. As the owner, you make the rules—and you live by the consequences of those rules.

In a similar vein, the suppliers own their little sandboxes. Who are we (as customers) to make the rules for a vendor’s sandbox? The vendor makes the rules, and we are confronted with a simple choice—play by the rules, or leave!  I am not sure owned the sandbox recently shared by Sandals and Apple, but one of them made the choice to leave.  Many years ago, Carlson Wagonlit (Associates) made the decision to leave Carnival’s sandbox because Carnival changed the rules. In both of those cases, many other companies decided to remain and play.

Sure it seems wrong and unjust that the rules can change on a whim. But that is the way it happens. McDonalds raises their prices. Burger King discontinued the Yumbo. One of the greatest benefits of owning a business is the ability to choose what you sell and to whom you sell it. So, rather than worry about the new rules, make your decision to stay and play—or to go home.

And if you decide to stay, why not concentrate on YOUR business and make the changes to YOUR business which are necessary to control YOUR own destiny? Just imagine a sandbox where you play by your rules and no one elses.

  2 thoughts on “Whose sandbox is it anyway?

  1. Susan says:

    John,

    Of course you are right. We will probably continue to complain when we hit bumps in the road, but after the whine-fest we need to make a business decision. Do we live with it? Or do we move on?

  2. Geoff Millar says:

    You are right. As in all businesses the only constant is change. We have to adapt our business plans and models to the changes that occur in our industry. The majority of travel sellers and suppliers are going to stay in business regardless of what we do.

    The danger we are running into, at least in the resort market, is the companies that provide the volume get top treatment and are listened to and unfortunatly, right now it is not the traditional travel agent but the online companies that are selling the volume. The only way to carry weight is to produce the most volume. Sometimes we don’t like the rules but we still have to play by them or get out of the business.

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