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?