Over the past week, the community forums have been buzzing all about the United move to push credit card processing onto the agent. Many arguments have begun over the “right” business model to adopt going forward; or even if there is a need for change. I believe that this industry has reacted to change all too often over the past twenty years. We sit back and wait for some outside force to do something that impacts us and then we adapt. Don’t get me wrong, we are probably the best and most adept adaptors on the planet. But is that any way to operate?
To use a very tired cliché, we need to think outside of the box when it comes to our future—whatever that may be. Honestly, if you think about it, if we can think it, we can do it. Before the first car was created, it must have seemed ludicrous to think that something could move people from one place to another without an animal pulling it. Back when people were riding around on horse and carriage, how many people envisioned a time when we would congregate in a thin metal tube and fly through the air at 30,000 feet at 600 miles per hour?
Remember the days when you used to have to actually drive to the local McDonalds to pick up a Number 6 Meal instead of just pressing the code in the new McOven in your kitchen and having your meal appear? Of course you don’t. That’s because it hasn’t been invented yet; but don’t for a minute think that someone is not thinking about it—I have dibs.
Our entire world has been built on the heels of fresh, innovative thinking, by fresh and innovative thinkers. We are at a crossroads in our industry and we need to innovate; and not just as it relates to United, think forward, think the thoughts you haven’t thunk before. Here are some questions to give you a gentle nudge.
- What’s broken? Throughout the day, we see all sorts of broken things. Become aware of them and think about what you can do to be more efficient or more thorough. Identify the broken arrows and replace them with fresh ones in your quiver.
- What’s missing? Is there something missing from your daily lives? What will make your life easier? Chances are that if you have thought of this, others have as well. Seize the moment and see if you can develop a process or product that will make your work life easy.
- What value can I add? Many things are not broken and work just fine. It’s OK to admit it. But ask yourself if they can work better? What value can you add to the process or product that will make it better? Maybe you are using the TRO Destination Guides (shameless plug: powered by Frommers and available to use on your site for a song and a dance) for your clients. What might make them better? You can always post a suggestion to our Community Forums or maybe it is just as simple as adding in a 10 day weather forecast from The Weather Channel just before your client leaves.
- What’s new? All too often we move through our lives doing the same thing day in and day out. It may (and usually does) work well for us. But you need to take some time and ask yourself what’s new. Yesterday I was speaking with an agent who was telling me he was a heavy rebater of all commissions. My initial reaction was to growl and hang up. But after listening to him, I realized he is onto something new. He is a home based agent with 300 clients—no more. He charges them $500 per year and 100% of all commissions are rebated. In return, he is available 24-7, and if completely free to book travel whatever way will give the client the best experience—preferred supplier or not. He begins the year with a hell of a cash flow, and can now pretty accurately predict the travel patterns and habits of his clients so he knows when he will be busy. Could you deal with one client a day for 300 days and have the next two months off? And earn $150,000? I could.
- Are you thinking big? When you are fostering new ideas, don’t think small. Think big. What would Gaza have been like had the Egyptians thought small? The Sacrada Familia had Antonin Gaudi decided to “scale back”? Generally, if your idea feels like it will be a breeze to implement, it probably is too small. Thinking bigger. It may take some time (the Sagrada Familia is just now getting a roof and Gaudi has been dead for a long time). It will take a lot of work, determination and perseverance. But, it can be accomplished and along the way it will open your thinking to scores of wonderful new ideas!
- Can it be any easier? Sometimes we have too much. While you have already considered what you want; now think about what you don’t need. George Carlin said we all have too much “stuff”, and he is right. If there is a way to do something more simply, embrace it. On ClientBaseHelp.com, there are many tips and tricks for using ClientBase. The whole concept is to make it easier? Are you booking with a vendor’s website? Why not use the Live Connect feature and pass the information between ClientBase and the vendor’s site? See? Get it?
- How can this be WOW? Not everything that we encounter in life will be missing, broken, or in dire need of repair. Some things are intrinsically dull, boring, mundane and, well—normal. So, how do you take something like that and jazz it up a bit. Well, that is where you come in. Here is where your passion shines through. It is not a 7 night cruise in the Caribbean; it is the most fantastic experience you will ever have with your loving family and the new friends you will meet on board. You will see new places and cultures, and dive into a gastonomical experience that is not to be believed. You will wake up at the crack of dawn to see the sun coming over the horizon separated by 3000 miles of water. See the difference? It is you!