What’s your plan | TravelResearchOnline

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What’s your plan

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 susan@shipsntripstravel.com or by phone at (888) 221-1209. 

  5 thoughts on “What’s your plan

  1. David Holman says:

    Great advice, Susan! After years as an independent agent, I recently joined in a partnership, and it is nice knowing someone is there to cover me if something happens. And since we are bi-coastal, the chance of both of us being hit by a natural catastrophe is pretty minimal.
    I also had an IC who passed away recently. She had cancer and a large part of the reason she joined our company was to ensure her clients would have someone to step in when she got too sick to handle her business. And it turned out her timing was, sadly, impeccable.

  2. Dave, I am so sorry to hear about your IC. 🙁 But that really does reinforce the need for having a plan (and policies) in place. I always tell people that you don’t know when you are going to be hit by a bus or struck by lightening, and policies need to be in place beforehand to account for the unexpected.

  3. Pete Larson says:

    I once had a real TA back-up plan but it fell to the wayside over the years. I often think about it and am in the process of training my spouse to be my back-up. My plan is not fully operational…but will be very soon. I have a lot of TA friends and I wish we could get together and be each others back-up plan! Keep good records is essential for sure. Great article, as usual!

  4. Pete, your wife is probably the best back-up for you in the event that you get sick, injured or worse. However, I would STRONGLY recommend you have at least 1 or 2 other back ups in place. What if you & your wife are both hospitalized because of a car accident? or you’re both affected by a blizzard and power outage? I don’t mean to be a debby-downer, but these are the scenarios that most of us don’t think of …. until it’s too late. 😉

  5. Darby Wojick says:

    Great article Susan, I have a backup plan with another agent. We cover for each other and have our “what if plan” with who to contact to get access to each other’s information. We live in the same state so that makes it easier to be able to go to the other persons home office in case of an emergency. Great advice about the access to the drop box. Thanks for sharing some additional things to think about.

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