A good number of travel consultants these days are independent and home based. As a result we don’t work in an office with peers that we can count on for back-up and support. We use forums like TRO’s Community to bounce ideas off of each other and for general support, and that’s great. But what do we do for back-up? Unfortunately, many of us really think about that.
What happens when a home-based agent ends up in the hospital unexpectedly? Or worse? Who can step in and take care of your clients? There are other emergencies to consider as well. Californians need to be prepared if their house is devastated in an earthquake. If you are suddenly homeless, with no phone and no power, you will have more pressing issues than work. In Tennessee it’s tornadoes. In the Northeast…blizzards. Gulf Coast…hurricanes. You get the picture.
I can’t speak for anyone else, but my husband would be clueless on what to do if something would happen to me. And many travel consultants live alone. Do you have a way for someone to step in and take over for you?
That bothered me; and that is why I have an emergency plan in place. In simple terms, if something happens to me, my husband has a detailed written plan on who to contact, along with user names and passwords for things like my CRM database, a simple Excel spreadsheet of all bookings so someone can easily tell which clients have future travel plans, which final payments (and how much) are still due (and when), as well as which commissions are still outstanding. The important part of this plan is the “who to contact” piece. I have four trusted travel consultants spread out across the United States that my husband can contact, and they can step in and take over without stepping foot in Tennessee. Or in the event that I’m fine, but have faced a devastating event (like the house burning down) I can contact my back-up, and they can access my spreadsheet from my Dropbox account.
Besides having an emergency plan in place, we should also consider “key man insurance.” This is a type of life insurance on a key employee, partner or owner “on whom the continued successful operation of a business depends.” In other words the person “whose absence would sink the company.” With most of us self-employed, that would be us. We are key to the success of our businesses. If we’re gone, the business is gone. With key man insurance the business is the beneficiary of the policy. A spouse (or someone else you designate in your emergency plan) can use the insurance proceeds for expenses in order to sell or close down your agency in an orderly fashion, without leaving clients high and dry. You can discuss this with any life insurance agent in order to get quotes on key man insurance.
Do you have a written emergency plan in place? Have you accounted for all contingencies? Tell is in the comments about your plans.
Susan Schaefer is the owner of Ships ‘N’ Trips Travel located in Tennessee, and specializes in leisure travel with a focus on group travel and charity fundraisers. Through their division Kick Butt Vacations she focuses on travel for 18 to 23 year olds. Susan can be reached by email at email@example.com or by phone at (888) 221-1209.