Are you playing the right game? | TravelResearchOnline


Are you playing the right game?

There is something about me that only my closest friends and family know. This painful personal detail changes their behavior toward me.  It affects when (or even if) they invite me to common social activities.

The truth is:  I am lousy at bowling.  I still enjoy it on those rare occasions I’m asked along (usually for laughs and to make everyone else feel better about their own skills).  But when I do choose to play, I have no illusion whatsoever that I will win.

I celebrate any ball that makes it to the pins without rolling in the gutter.  I graciously accept all frustrated attempts at coaching by well-intentioned friends.  I gladly volunteer to be the beer-fetcher, scorekeeper or cheerleader.  For me to approach bowling in any other way, would just make it an irritating, unproductive waste of time for all.

However, if you challenge me to a game of scrabble, there is a very good chance I’ll win!  I’m not as good as my mom but it will be an enjoyable, vocabulary-learning adventure.

For travel consultants, there are two games at play.  One is like me with bowling.  The other is more like me and Scrabble.  Curiously, travel consultants already know which game they’re best at, but they keep trying to play the other game expecting to win it.

I’m talking about the Internet.  The machines are supremely good at spewing out massive amounts of highly biased, artificially perfect looking travel options.  Tablet toting travellers are feverishly tapping and swiping through them wondering why they feel overwhelmed.

Then they call a travel consultant, and instead of delivering a different experience, far too many try to play the same game.  When asked to find or beat a deal found on a website, their fingers will furiously scour the net and the GDS aiming for a strike.  Sadly, it usually ends in an irritating, unproductive waste of time… even if they find the deal.

So, why not play the OTHER game?  It’s a game that the net cannot and doesn’t even want to play.   Customers won’t think to ask for it.  They may not even know about it.  But once you introduce them to it, they just might become loyal fans.

There’s only one rule to this game:  never believe a customer knows what they want, even if they do.  Websites always believe them, even if they’ve made a horrible mistake.

Stop assuming that the artificial reality seen online equals an educated decision.  Stop chasing the price first. Start playing the game called consulting.

Consulting means asking the right questions, in order to do the right research, in order to make the right recommendations.

Machines can’t play that game.  You can.  It’s your sport.  Play it often and you can be a superstar.  Superstars are the ones who get the super fees.

But if you keep trying to win the other game, you’ll just end up as the beer-fetcher and scorekeeper for someone else.

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 ( 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.

  5 thoughts on “Are you playing the right game?

  1. Good words, Nolan – I decided long ago to not worry about what the Internet is offering and start worrying about delivering the advice the clients come to me for. It’s taken a load off my mind, and I am certainly more optimistic about my business’ future.

    That said, next time I’m up your way, let’s go bowling. 🙂

  2. Nolan Burris says:

    Thanks Steve! Just remember, if we go bowling, my job is fetching the beer. If you actually want to BOWL with someone, you’ll need to invite some others LOL.

  3. Keith Powell says:

    Great words of wisdom… Thanks

  4. Nolan, as usual you are right on the money!

    I hope that some of our travel colleagues out there will switch their game and become successful…because it’s just more fun when you can win!

    ~Trish 🙂

  5. Karen Dawson says:

    Great analagy, Nolan. We all KNOW that, but every once in a while we get caught up in that…thanks for the reminder.

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