When I did my first Travel Agent Diary, I told you a lot about myself. What I neglected to mention is that I am also a juggler. Not in a literal sense but in a figurative one. Among all the other things in my life. I also juggle two sources of income—my travel business and my “other” job as a Human Resources Specialist for an insurance company. Both are very important to my financial security and I don’t work either one with any less fortitude. They most certainly are not hobbies.
I work nearly 40 hours as required by my employer each week and I devote countless hours to my travel practice —something I require. This wasn’t always the plan though. In fact, the business plan my partner and I drew up in 2007 called for me to “retire” from the corporate world by the end of 2008; but that’s not quite practical with today’s economy.
Beginning in the fall of 2008, some of my clients began to feel the effects of the real estate collapse and the stock market decline. They began to think seriously about their discretionary income; and travel most definitely falls into the category of discretionary. I saw many clients scale back their trips and a few canceled outright. All of these things affected LK Cruises’ bottom line. After much discussion with my partners, we came to the conclusion that we simply could not afford my early “retirement”. So here I sit, on one of my fifteen minute breaks from my job writing an article for my business. And that is pretty much the way I juggle my balls.
My day goes something like this:
- I get up at 4:00 am and check my three travel email accounts. I respond to the emails that can be handled immediately and make notes and assign myself tasks for later in the day for those that require research or can’t be addressed until later.
- I check Facebook and LinkedIn and respond to nudges, friend requests and network updates if time allows.
- I dress and pack my laptop bag with travel reading materials, research materials and any proposals I am preparing.
- I pray.
- I have a 90 minute commute to work on public transportation but that gives me plenty of time to work on things on my list. I am in the habit of using Post It ® notes all over my travel magazines and scribbling notes for clients.
- I arrive at my office at 7:45 am for an 8:00 am start. Still on “my” time I am free to answer any travel related questions posed in earlier emails, make notes in ClientBase, enter payments, create receipts and send out a few invoices before my co-workers arrive.
- From 8:30 am until 5:00 pm, I am on their time and with the exception of a couple of 15 minute breaks and a lunch hour. I am a diligent employee.
- At 5:00 pm I make a break for it. More research and reading on the way back. This time, I address the emails that came in while I was at work. Once again, I address those that I can with phone calls and text messages, and making notes for those that have to wait until I stop moving.
- On the way home I stop at my parents’ home. This is the official address for LK Cruises as my father is one of my business partners and is really retired. I pick up any client documents, bills, brochures or checks that may have arrived during the day.
- After the “to-do” list is complete (or as complete as possible), my dad and I will have a meeting to discuss the status of the business. We discuss new prospects and any issues that may have come up in the meantime. My father is a great source of leads for my agency. After 50 years in government service my dad knows almost everybody; and many of his former associates are now entrepreneurs or are involved with non-profit organizations that need fundraising.
- About 8:30 pm he drives me home to my house. Once home, I prepare any proposals or quote requests and send them out via email or snail mail, depending on the clients’ preferences.
- At 9:30 pm I make a few calls, generally to other time zones. I am fortunate that many of the non-profit groups and my current batch of group leaders all live west of me, so the time zones work to my advantage.
- At 11:00 pm I kiss whichever of my adult or quasi adult children happens to be awake and home from work and fall blissfully into bed with my mind still racing toward plans to do it all again tomorrow.
I’d love to say I never drop any of these balls but that wouldn’t be accurate. I have answered my office phone with my travel agency greeting. I have referred to HR vendors as travel vendors, and I have given out my travel card to some business contacts. Interestingly, I have never made the mistake in the reverse. I guess that’s because I’m not a HR Specialist that sells travel on the side; I’m a travel consultant that just happens to be an HR Specialist in my spare time.