I hate winter personally. But, I love it from a business standpoint. Being in the mid-Atlantic, we do get crappy cold weather and it usually makes people get the itch to travel. But when we get hammered like we did this past week, it really makes people want to travel—which is good for business. And to be honest, it’s about time that we had a few things go our way after the last two years. While the sales and commissions are certainly valuable to my bank account, winters provide something a lot more valuable to your success as a travel professional than money.
Of course I am talking about the opportunity to shine. Inherently, winter weather provides challenges for travelers. Certainly the recent double whammy in the mid-Atlantic has affected travelers from all across the country. Now is your time to shine as a travel professional.
While I did not have that many clients traveling, I did have a few and was working through the weekend to assure them, reaccomodate them, and rebook them to ensure that their travel experience was as close to perfect as possible. I pity the travelers who chose to do business with Orbitz, Priceline, Expedia, or Travelocity. What did any of these “agencies” do to proactively assist their clients? As a travel professional, my fee pays for a lot more than an automated phone call informing them that they are screwed. And I really have no idea how the MLM companies such as YTB handled the situation—they essentially subcontract with Travelocity and route all calls for service into a call center that is open limited hours.
What did you do this past week to shine for your clients? If the travel forums are any indication, most legitimate travel professionals were working hard for their clients, and the clients are incredibly appreciative. But why stop there?
The weather was the news for a full week. We heard about sleeping in the airports, diverted flights, people stuck on vacation, and people prevented from going on vacation. In my local market, they also heard about people getting through.
While it is still a hot topic (another storm is due to hit the mid-Atlantic on President’s Day), why don’t you send a press release to your local paper or television station and let everyone know that there is an option other than the “your screwed” message bot. The same forums that talk (amongst ourselves) about our heroics are the same ones that are complaining how little the public knows of our value. What a perfect opportunity to turn that around. Find a client who you helped and get some comments from them. Toss out a few tips (but no secrets) on how to best navigate the situation when Mother Nature throws a wrench in your plans. Get the message out that indeed without a travel professional, you are on your own.
As an industry, we are proactive on behalf of our clients; yet not so proactive on ourselves. It’s winter. Travel is going to continue to be inconvenient for the next six weeks—the Punxsutawney Phil assured us of that! So now you have six more weeks of opportunity. Find that client. Write that release, and show the world why you are better off with a travel professional.