Regardless of their intrinsic value as learning lessons, travel agency mistakes can be costly. Whether it is an airline ticket booked to the wrong destination, or the missed deadline or the client whose project slips through the cracks, the real cost to the agency can be totally out of proportion to the potential gain inherent in the transaction. For that reason, it is important for your travel agency to very closely examine mistakes. However, too frequently mistakes are not fully analyzed and understood by the entire body of co-workers in a travel agency, opening the door to a similar mistake being made again in the future. Further, the loss of a key employee can mean that a large portion of the historical understanding of past mishaps may walk out of the door. To prevent repeating past mistakes, each agency should implement a procedure at weekly or bi-weekly meetings of analyzing mistakes, recording their cause and implementing corrective procedural action.
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Mistakes happen – but usually for a reason that can be understood and for which procedures can be put into place to prevent. Challenge the entire office to jointly evaluate a scenario to analyze a problem. Opening up mistakes to the entire office lets the staff more fully appreciate the problem, its cause and the impact on the company. More importantly, however, it allows the office as a whole to corporately absorb the problem, the solution and to expand the corporate legacy of the issue.
Staff meetings are a good time to evaluate a problem and to analyze its genesis. Naturally, management needs to have privately dealt with any repercussions for particular staff members prior to the meeting. The purpose is not to further place blame or to cause more disruption, but to create a generalized understanding of the mistake that occurred and the correctives to be put into place. A generalized brainstorming session should be allowed – management will often be surprised to discover that the causes leading to a mistake are sometimes institutionalized and need to be corrected at unexpected junctures in the standard operating procedure. By achieving a buy-in from the entire staff, management gains an acquiescence to the importance of the problem and to the corrective measures necessary.
Of real importance is the recordation and memorialization of the history of a mistake, along with the corrective actions taken. New employees should have an opportunity to read through the minutes of such discussions as a way to avoid repeating them out of inexperience. A case book of past errors provides a record that will not leave with any one employee, and will provide the entire office with a benchmark for future performance.
Those who cannot remember the past, or admit to it, are doomed to repeat it.