I suspect that most of us are tired of reading about how bad the economy is and worse yet, how many so called “experts” think it will not get better any time soon. But at the same time, we read how the President is continuing to try to come up with a “stimulus” plan that will get us back on track again. But, the real question we all wonder about is how will all this effect the travel industry in the near future, much less in 2012 and beyond.
It seems that the answer is that no one really has a working crystal ball and thus no one really knows! The travel suppliers all tell us that they are doing “better than they expected” and they are hoping for a strong last quarter. But, yet with all the promotions and weekly deals that I see, I suspect they aren’t doing as well as they would have us believe.
However, most of us that are home based agents only care if we will have enough sales this week to earn enough to pay our bills next month. And herein lies the true answer…those of us that have continued to see the “glass as half full” have been aggressively offering all those specials and supplier deals of the week to our client; and in fact, we are having a pretty good year. And, I am convinced that 2012 just might be a great year for those positive minded agents that are keeping their clients informed on all the great travel bargains that are out there.
At the same time, many travel agents tell me things like “the travel industry isn’t like it used to be” and are asking me if it is time for them to retire? My first reaction is “welcome to the real world,” as the travel industry has been continually changing since 9/11. If they haven’t figured that part out by now, I don’t think I can tell them if it is time for them to retire or not. However, if they are continually talking about it, my sense is that they already almost retired. I can almost guarantee their negative view of the economy and the travel industry is pretty obvious to their clients and their sales are down.
You will have to answer the retirement question for yourself, but my hopes are that you aren’t even contemplating that question, but are instead working hard to fulfill the travel dreams of your clients that have already retired.
Professional Travel Agents, Never Retire
My point in this whole discussion is that professional travel agents are staying so busy finding the right “deal” for their best clients that they don’t have time to think about retirement. That is the one great thing about the leisure side of our industry, with all of the baby boomers that are retiring each year,we have plenty of people looking for a professional travel agent that can find them the vacation they have been waiting to take.
My larger point (and a good one)is that all the supplier, cruise, resort and destination education that we learned over the years is still very applicable today. While there might be a lot of new ships and spectacular resorts, the fact remains that the destinations haven’t changed that much and a cruise vacation or an all-inclusive vacation are still some of the best vacation values out there. Most of you that know anything about me, know that I love cruising and it is pretty hard to speak with me without discussing cruising for awhile.
And, for those of you that are still new to this industry, a very important CLIA cruise industry statistic was released in 1986– roughly 93% of North American residents had NEVER CRUISED! And here we are 25 years later and after over 100 fabulous new ships have been built and that number has only dropped to 80%! The point is, if you spend any time at all learning how to sell cruises, and better yet take one yourself, you will know more about a cruise vacation than 80% of your clients and prospects. That is a HUGE advantage for you.
My closing message is clear–don’t even think about retiring from such a great industry. If you spend the right amount of time learning how to thrive in this down economy, you will not only survive, you will be ready to really grow your business when the economy finally improves. I trust that if you read these TRO articles regularly, you will end up like me–someone who will never retire and who enjoys choosing which clients they want to help, while always looking for your own next travel opportunity.
Maybe we will even see each other out on the high seas soon, as I am starting to do a series of Seminars@Sea and Seminars@Resorts for a large host agency, that are designed to teach you how to really make some serious money, even in these hard times. For those of you that might want to learn more about our upcoming educational opportunities just drop me an email and I can send you some very interesting information.
Larry Norman, CTC, MCC is an icon in the industry. He has been a consultant to over 5,000 Home Based Travel Agents and trained an estimated 22,000 travel agents over his career. He was Travel Trade’s 1996 Travel Educator of the Year. Larry owned a four state network of 17 agencies, with annual sales of $28 million. Larry is known as “The Outside Sales Agent Expert” for his presentations on outside sales at Travel Trade Cruise-A-Thons, ASTA, ARTA and NACOA travel agent conferences among others. You can share your views with Larry at LarryNormanCTC@gmail.com