Yes, 2009 was a very difficult year in many ways. In stark contrast to depressing news blasting from every source, it was also a year of dreams for me, and for some amazing travel agents I know. Was it luck? Was it opportunism? Was it business-savvy? No. It was something far more important: VISION!
One of my dreams that came true in 2009 was publishing a book. When I wrote “Visionistics – The Process of Success” my vision was clear: teach others a simple way to make their own dreams come true. While it is not a book about the travel industry, it was inspired by an experience within it that demonstrated just how powerful vision can be.
Several years ago I met a man named Howard (not his real name). He was the owner of a small travel agency in trouble. He was a man with a vision that lived in his heart. He loved adventure and eco travel with a passion. He believed that he could change the world for the better if more people could see and experience it for themselves. Several tactical missteps and a near financial disaster threatened to bring his dream crashing down. It was his commitment to the vision within his heart that carried him through adversity and made his dreams (eventually) come true.
In early 2009 I received an email from a home-based travel agent in despair. In her words: “I have become the K-Mart of travel.” She was selling countless discount tours and bargain cruises and spreading herself far too thin to provide the quality of service in which she believed. But, she had a vision to become something more.
In her email she said she was implementing a new ‘Concierge Service’ idea where clients could pay $149 per “consultation” for extra time and personal attention. She would set aside dedicated time for a limited number of clients. She expected that only a handful, if any at all, would be interested. To her utter dismay, most of her clients asked to be a part of the appointment-only offering!
Three months later, I got another email: “the Concierge Service program has worked so well that I’m now offering ‘Concierge Plus’ for $249 with some additional services like activities planning, restaurant research and more…” Her vision transformed her business into the dream-making service she had always wanted it to be.
The day my book appeared on Amazon.com I was elated. My vision was to write a book that actually helped people. Customer reviews and watching it climb the charts was one way I could gauge how well it was working. It wasn’t. I was understandably discouraged. So, I recorded an audio version.
The day it appeared on iTunes (for the iPod) I was thrilled. I posted one simple status update on my Facebook profile: “Hurray! The audio version of my book is now on iTunes!” Within 24 hours it soared to the number two most downloaded album in the spoken word category. I was shocked. The audio version was outselling the printed version by a factor of several hundred to one.
I learned a lot about the power of social media that day. I learned that few people have the time to read any more, but they are still willing to listen. I also learned that vision is truly as powerful as I always believed it to be, but it sometimes requires patience and a little thing called faith.
From my book: “The most important time to trust that everything will work out is when it seems that it won’t. Having faith during good times alone isn’t really faith at all.”
I hope that 2010 will be a year for dreams to come true for all of you. Just remember, it starts with a vision and depends on faith.
Nolan Burris is an author, former travel agent, failed musician and self-professed techno-geek. He’s also a popular international speaker both inside and outside of the travel industry. He is the founder and chief Visioneer of Future Proof Travel Solutions (futureprooftravel.com) based in Vancouver, Canada. Nolan’s believes that if can change the way business works, you’ll change the world. His goal is to spread the message of integrity and ethics in a techno-driven world.