If your answer is “NO” and you were given an opportunity to hit the “Reset” button and reboot your travel or tour company, would you do it?
Virtually all travel professionals, whether new home-based agent, tour operator, or the general manager of a large, multi-location agency, struggle with similar challenges such as finding new clients, keeping the old ones happy, cash flow, and advertising to name just a few.
You may have heard the expression “The tail is wagging the dog!” The biggest challenge we face is building a business that you run, not one that runs you.
Michael Gerber author of The E-Myth (which I highly recommend) put it more eloquently, “If your business depends on you, you don’t own a business—you have a job. And it’s the worst job in the world because you’re working for a lunatic!”
I started both my travel and consulting businesses to gain the freedom from having a job, and I imagine you did the same. So, let me ask you a question, “Have you bet the future of your company on just one or two business strategies because that’s what ‘everyone’ told you to do?”
Unfortunately, many travel professionals have done just that. They placed their bets on one or two strategies – usually marketing related, and in many cases, have ended up on the losing side of the deal.
They find themselves spending most of their working capital on advertising / marketing hoping someone – anyone, will take the bait. They don’t have jobs, they have become slaves to their own business – hoping and praying for things to turn around. Last time I checked “Hope” is not a strategy, and what they are doing simply isn’t working. Most concede the need for real change as their cash is running out and lack the resources to turn the ship around.
Most business owners will eventually hit a wall. It may be a creative wall, where they are unable to come up with solutions to take their business to the next level. It can be an emotional, spiritual, or financial wall. I have hit the wall myself several times in my career. If you haven’t yet, one day you will. The situation is not hopeless – there is light at the end of the tunnel.
Creating a scalable and sustainable business is not easy. It takes the successful execution of a combination of proactive and reactive strategies.
How do I know? I could have easily been describing myself as anyone. We had built a travel business from scratch which to an outside observer, appeared to be a successful company.
Sales were good and the suppliers were happy, but on the inside it wasn’t so rosy. We were trying to compete with the big discounters and warehouse clubs (sound familiar?). We were making sales, but the margins were razor thin.
Like most, we didn’t have unlimited resources, and the amount of money it takes to do what “everyone” said we should be doing is astronomical. If you have tried to “build your brand” you are very familiar with that big sucking sound that is your bank account hemorrhaging cash.
By our CPA’s estimation, we were less than 30 days from bankruptcy. I thought we ran a pretty lean ship, however the simple fact that marketing expenditures far outweighed revenue was killing us. We couldn’t afford to fail. We had everything we owned and then some invested in our travel business. Fortunately, we recognized our situation before it was too late, one more month and who knows…
I sought advice from several of my good customers who I trusted and owned successful businesses as well as a few agency owners I respected from my consortia. I quickly learned we were too focused on marketing and not paying attention the rest of the activities needed to make profitable sales. No surprise – from the beginning we were just doing what we had been told by all the experts.
My newly formed “brain trust” was unanimous in suggesting that we “reboot” the business with all resources and activities focused on a clear outcome – driving profitable sales.
This really opened my eyes and got me excited about the business again. From their suggestions, I developed a plan to reboot our company using a system of six key strategies that literally turned our business around.
As an advocate for the travel and tourism industry, my job is to offer frank and honest advice to help you become a better travel professional. Starting with my next blog column, I will introduce a six-part series to share these strategies which will help put you in control of your sales and business.
But first, I ask that you to keep an open mind. Some of what you will hear may be new or contrary to what you know or have learned over the years.
The strategies I will share, when executed systematically, will work. They have been proven time and time again in numerous business models. Each step on its own will probably not help you reach your goals. But when practiced together, you will see a noticeable difference.
If your business is not where you would like it to be and you were given an opportunity to hit the “Reset” button, would you jump at the chance? I sure did!
Dan Chappelle is a professional business advisor, sales coach, author, and speaker specializing in the travel and tourism industry. His training and consulting firm helps develop sales oriented business leaders and entrepreneurs. His best-selling book, Get Your S.H.I.P. Together: The Wealthy Travel Agent Guide to Sales, is available on Amazon.com.
For information on Dan’s business development programs, visit: www.DanChappelle.com