More fruit, less pastries and orange juice. I will get to the meaning of that statement in just a bit. For now, I am going to follow the Toastmasters’ evaluation format. I am going to sandwich the low parts of this entry with a couple of upbeat messages.
If you read my last diary entry, I was down to my last $347. I am happy to report that the “losses” for the business meant quite the windfall in the form of a tax refund both from the Feds and my State. My bank account is now reading much closer to full than hovering around “E”.
With that said, it has been a pretty rough few weeks. Quotes turning into bookings have slowed to a crawl and the phone remains pitifully silent. My personal level of enthusiasm and morale has been holding in the ebb cycle. It seems every day there is a news story promoting the idea that those who have the means to travel should feel guilty. I, and I am sure others in the travel industry, wish for less political posturing about the ‘evils’ of travel. For example, I have friends who are having their incentive reward travel cancelled by their company as it is not politically correct.
While I see evidence that the majority of businesses in my own locale are doing well, I seem to take more notice of the closed businesses or the new set of job losses. My intellect tells me that this is exactly what the media wants me to focus on when 90% of the stories are negative. My mind and heart fails to notice the majority of good news. I came up with a name for these mood swings: “Morale-ity Volatility.”
Like the wild swings of bear and bull days in the stock market, I find myself feeling really great about what I am doing one day; only to awash in floods of personal self-doubt asking myself ‘What in the heck did I get myself into?’ the next. Plotted on a graph, it would mirror exactly the rise and fall of the stock market.
If people ask how things are going in the cruise industry, I am always upbeat and positive. I stress the value of a cruise vacation for those who do have the means. I know most folks are not hearing a positive message on a daily basis so I try to be the difference. People tell me it is infectious and they appreciate it, yet I am getting more ‘Nos’ or ‘Not right nows’ than ‘Yesses’ when I ask if they would like to discuss their next vacation.
The absolute low point came when I had to make the difficult decision to postpone our own Alaska trip until next year. I love what I am doing and one of the benefits is having the funds and ability to travel. I expected to have generated enough commission income by this point to easily cover this long planned Alaska cruise tour. We also ran headlong into the reality that taking a two week vacation during my wife’s crunch time at work would not be the best idea. I truly felt defeated. It was a low emotional point for me personally. The silver lining to this disappointment; Alaska will still be there next year and we are taking a two week Mediterranean vacation in October as part of our annual national convention.
The other positive slice of this negativity sandwich occurred a few days before I wrote this entry. Through a program with my Chamber of Commerce, I was asked to be a Principal for a Day at a local high school. Last October, I shadowed the principal while he went about his routine. We became friends over the past few months, and I recently brought breakfast for 100 of his faculty and staff. I was able to add names to my database, promote a group cruise I have coming up in the fall (which serves as a fundraiser for individual schools in my district), and I met the woman, who four years ago, coordinated a group cruise to Alaska for members of the student leadership. They are ready to cruise again with another group in 2010, and I am positive they will allow me to put together a proposal for their next cruise.
As I bring this entry to a close, I am riding much higher on the morale wave though I recognize that periods of doubt and extreme volatility are sure to follow. I also leave with you a tip that came from my experience taking breakfast to the faculty and staff of a high school. While faculty and staff of a high school will appreciate anything that is free, you will be less likely to have anyone disappointed if you follow my advice: Bring more fruit and less pastries and orange juice.
Chuck Flagg is an independent owner/operator of SeaMaster Cruises in Canton, GA. For information contact Chuck at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 770-355-9569.
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