Why would you publish that? | TravelResearchOnline


Why would you publish that?

Last week, my column focused on several traits I felt a professional travel agent brings to the table.  It was intended to point out the differences between a hobbyist and a professional and what is perhaps required to cross that bridge. As many know, I am not a fan of the hobbyist agents.  But one of our Point To Point contributors, Kelly Monaghan took me to task and essentially told me and my opinion to go to hell!

As soon as Kelly’s column published, I received several emails asking how I could publish that response when it was a clear shot across “my bow.”  Easy—we all have opinions and positions and without listening to them and giving them some consideration, we do ourselves a major injustice.

Do I agree with Kelly’s rebuttal 100%? Absolutely not! But he does make some very salient points about newbies needing a place to start and to be allowed (for lack of a better term) to make the same mistakes the seasoned veteran did back in the Mesozoic Era. But I also still stand by my partial list of the differentiators between an amateur and a pro.

Last week in the Agent Perspectives column, Mary Stephan was discussing  an impromptu networking opportunity in a hotel bar. Two travel professionals had connected and were sharing ideas over a drink when the bartender suggested they include another travel professional at the end of the bar.  Bartenders have the entire scoop.

They invited the other woman to join them and were turned down. It seems that the other woman did not want to associate with “the competition.” It made no sense.  Mary was not asking her to divulge any deep dark secrets. I am relatively sure there was no waterboarding, handcuffs, or tasers involved. Why wouldn’t a reasonable person be willing to at least have a listen?

Just like the emails I received about Kelly’s rebuttal—why would I not listen to what he has to say? Kelly has been in the travel business longer than I have—in fact he wrote the book on home based agents.  I don’t have to agree with him, but he deserves a listen.

Similarly, I believe Mary and her colleague also deserved a listen in that hotel bar. The title of her column, Why are we so afraid of each other, is apt. Keeping an open mind in this industry is a key to success and longevity.

You may be close-minded to a particular supplier now—but they may change. Give them a listen.  While Agent X may be your competition, he may have an idea to share that will help your business, or maybe just spark the idea for an improvement. Give Agent X a listen. I may have a list of criteria for a travel professional, but that does not mean that Kelly’s opinion is not worth a listen. Mary may be a competitor, but she is most certainly worth a listen.

Succeeding in business today is lot more difficult than it was in the past.  With the vast wealth of information available to us (and our clients), can we afford to not consider all of the options? The notion of agents being enemies because they complete is ludicrous. As we all know, competition is good for the marketplace. It offers consumers choice and it keeps businesses on their toes. What do you think?





  5 thoughts on “Why would you publish that?

  1. Sherrie Funk says:

    As national speakers, Charlie and I have often been asked (even by some of our suppliers) why we share our “secrets” with other agents and agency owners. We both feel that it is our duty to help each other, and by doing so, it will only strengthen those of us who are not OTAs, are not home-based agencies, but who comprise the “middle class” of travel agencies. We don’t look at other agencies as our competitors. Our suppliers have become our biggest competitors. The untrained hobbiest is our competitor. The YTBs of this world are our competitors. The OTAs are our competitors. Those of us who are on this rollercoaster for the long haul NEED each other, and we need to help each other as often as possible.

    1. John Frenaye says:

      I completely agree–I might also suggest that Home Depot, the wine bar, and any hobby a consumer might have are also competitors. In the most basic sense, we are competing for discretionary dollars, not necessarily travel.

  2. Nolan Burris says:

    I sometimes use the term “competi-peers.” Like you said John, we are all in the business for the same bucket of discretionary dollars but we are also in that bucket together – to make it a stronger more successful bucket.

    Charlie and Sherrie Funk, Mike Marchev, Stuart Cohen, Sophie Bujold and too many others to name are all technically my “competitors” in the speaking side of things. We all have very different opinions on some things and similar thoughts on others.

    Of course we don’t always agree and isn’t that wonderful! Why? Because there is never one single way to succeed that will work for everyone the same way.

    Politics of the last decade or so has encouraged us to use our differences as a wedge to divide us from each other, even to hate one another. No good can ever come from that – not in politics and definitely not in travel.

    So my travel agent friends, listen to all you can. Find what works for you in your special way. And always remember that there is no travel INDUSTRY if then industry doesn’t support and help each other. Varied opinions is what makes that possible. And good manners don’t hurt either. 😉

  3. Pete Larson says:

    Well said…as usual, Nolan!

  4. Sherrie & Charlie and I share the same town. 😉 I don’t view them, or other agents in the area as my competitors. Like John said … Home Depot, Best Buy, Bass Pro Shops, Andrews Cadillac … the “others” that are after our clients’ discretionary funds, THOSE are my competitors. 😉

Share your thoughts on “Why would you publish that?”

You must be logged in to post a comment.