I’ve long believed that travel consultants sell much more than “trips.” I’ve always seen their role as more significant than deal finding and reservation making. Until recently however, I’m not sure I realized just important travel is.
After winning a year and a half-long battle with inflammatory breast cancer, a dear friend was recently diagnosed with brain cancer and given a dismal prognosis. A wife, mother, and passionate travel consultant, Michelle Pammenter Young has spent her life creating joyful experiences for others.
Immediately after dealing with the shock, sorrow and anger, of her diagnosis, something else became incredibly important to her: she HAD to travel.
“Travel is life!”
She told me she hoped to take her family somewhere amazing, and to do something magical for what could easily be their last trip together. A European river cruise is at the top of her bucket list, but there is precious little time (or money) to fill that bucket.
I’m telling you her story because every one of your clients also has a story. It may not be Michelle’s story, but it is a story nonetheless. You may never know what’s really going on when they seem insistent, demanding, tentative or hopeful. So try to remember to see the person behind the price quotes, the bookings and the itineraries. Their story may be about joy, romance, adventure or family time. There’s a reason for every trip.
I also want to remind you of something that is priceless in this industry–relationships. Within days of me posting about Michelle’s situation on Facebook, travel professionals around the world started pitching in with ideas, suggestions, and connections to help.
People like Richard Earls, Charlie Funk, Mike Marchev, Stuart Cohen and countless others were quick to jump in and ask, “what can I do?” It was an inspiring thing to witness indeed.
Some agencies tapped their preferred supplier relationships, in hopes of finding one to donate the cruise. So far, no clear offers have materialized, but with relationships like these, there’s no need to give up! If it doesn’t come through, we’ll hopefully raise enough money through donations to simply buy the trip with heads held high.
Relationships of course, are not one-way-affairs. Suppliers depend on your support in order to help you. Michelle is no exception. In addition to being a travel consultant, she operates a travel review blog in which she plans to promote, highlight and publicly praise whichever supplier participates in making her dream a reality.
Even in her unimaginable situation, she understands the importance of partnership. She’ll be video-blogging, posting, podcasting and making sure that anyone and everyone will know the importance of a supplier relationship. I suppose it’s just another one of those wonderful things that happens when you become a part of the travel community. Something in you changes for the better.
They say that travel gets in your blood. I now know that that cancer can do that too. As I go through yet another round of surgeries, radiation and chemical madness, I hope to rid my body AND my brain of cancer. But travel? That’s an infection I never intend to cure.
-Michelle Pammenter Young
What about you? You may or may not face cancer. But I’m sure there are days when you struggle with this crazy career you’ve chosen. When those struggles come up, think of Michelle and remember: you don’t sell travel, you sell life.
If you’d like to learn more about this amazing woman and her journey, check out her personal blog and podcast at Living Life Now. She’s “live-blogging” her entire cancer experience. It’s awe-inspiring.
If you’d like to donate to help her and her family with a dream trip, a gofundme page for Michelle has been set up!