Circumstances change. Travel consulting is one of a number of businesses which has radically evolved from the pre-internet days. In the early 1990’s travel agents essentially held the keys to the kingdom. The GDS systems were the sole domain of the profession and the general public viewed travel and foreign destinations as something of an exotic mystery. Now, every high school student can look up an airfare.
Yet, the best travel professionals weathered the changes and demonstrated the flexibility necessary to shift their business model from retail to consulting. The capacity to be adaptable is one of the most important qualities an industry or an individual in business can possess. Yet, time and again, businesses have held onto old ways of doing things with a rigidity that at first looked steadfast but which proved to be a death grip.
Think back a few years ago and look at the major brand names largely absent from today’s marketplace. Many of those no longer with us or diminished to insignificance simply misunderstood their market. Western Union is a great example. At one time, Western Union monopolized instant communication with their domination of the telegraph industry. They owned satellites and were an early adopter of video, voice and data transmission. Had they understood their core business in a broader context, they rather than UPS or Federal Express might be delivering your packages overnight.
Flexibility has allowed travel professionals to move from a retail business model to a consulting business model. True, many in the industry have failed to come along and remain convinced they sell travel. New technologies will continue to shift the ground on which they sit, however, and the need to be adaptable has not diminished. Smart travel agencies and consultants alike will continue to scan the market to undertake period strategy reviews and to set their directions and plans based on an analysis of the industry as it evolves, not as it looks today.
As in soccer, you run to where the ball will be, not to where it is.
Years ago, traditional concepts of business strategies were based on assumptions of market stability and predictability. Today’s business people have no such comfort. The biggest players in the technology world, think Google, are eyeing travel as an attractive market. However unsettled the field has seemed in the past, it is almost certain to be equally challenging in the future.
I assure you there will always be a place for a passionate travel consultant. Build your business plans to incorporate the ability to tack with the wind, and your capacity to move with the market will ensure your survival as a vital component of the travel industry.