I had occasion yesterday to speak by telephone with a person who lives in the French Quarter of New Orleans. It was Sunday, 10:00 in the morning. In the background of our conversation, I could hear a trumpet being played. My friend was standing on his balcony and was marveling at how crowded the streets were at such an early hour. Crowded with tourist enjoying themselves, having a good time, staying at hotels, eating out… hmmmm.
Yes, we are in the middle of a bad downturn in the economy. But people are traveling. I am confident that if I could take a look at Piccadilly Square or Temple Bar in Dublin or the Plaka in Athens, or a beach in Phuket or Milford Sound or Ka’anapali – I would see travelers doing what travelers do. Statistically, it is very likely that a high percentage of them used a travel agent.
The recession is real, but it is also largely psychological. People need a break from the bad news, they need to travel. Your job is to help people travel in all circumstances. The good news? There are absolutely fantastic travel deals in most major cities domestically right now. Same goes for cruises and Europe and Latin America. 90% of the population is employed and will remain so and now is an amazing time to travel. The crowds will be less, the locals appreciative and your clients can fulfill some portion of their travel ambitions that they have been putting off at real value prices.
This is not a simple pep talk. Good travel agents have a responsibility to themselves and to their clients to work harder than ever during the economic crisis. When the going gets tough, smart travel agents get smarter. Turn around to the people in your office, or look yourself in the mirror and think about the opportunities that these times bring. Don’t give yourself excuses for fewer sales this year, go out and exploit the opportunities that are available to you. Fear is contagious, but so is passion. Be the spark your clients need to decide to travel.
Here’s another opportunity – a lot of travel agents will be giving up this year. One thing that recessions do is weed out a portion of the agent population. In the more than twenty years I have been in the business, I have seen at least three recessions. It happens every time. For every agent that quits, there are a few clients cut loose, wandering the streets aimlessly looking for assistance. Won’t you adopt a few of these clients? They want to travel, they just need someone to show them how.
Smart travel agents have stepped it up a gear. They are marketing harder, they are working longer. They are holding their own. I’m betting that if you are reading this column you are one of the smart ones. Eliminate the negative thoughts from your mindset now. This is your time, the only one you have. Get smart, work hard, and make the best of it. You will be a stronger, better travel agent when the economy recovers and you are among the ones left standing.