“If you can’t make it in America, you can’t make it.” I remember hearing the phrase like it was yesterday. It was the husband of a Russian immigrant couple in Chicago. He’s a successful ER surgeon and she is a successful…you guessed it…travel agent. Their home was modest, yet beautifully furnished. The good doctor said after passing the rolls at the dinner table…
“If you can’t make it in America, you can’t make it.”
Those words have stuck with me ever since.
That was over 20 years ago and I think of that sentence every time I talk to a room full of travel professionals. With a little poetic license I now put a different spin on the same concept.
“If you can’t make it in the travel business, you can’t make it.”
Now that I have your attention, let me take you through my thought process. Whether home-based or not, travel agents grow on trees — they are everywhere. The Internet makes it easy to book trips on one’s own. Suppliers are contacting travelers directly and doing end-runs. The Big Box Stores are cutting prices. Nobody wants to pay fees; and commissions are going the way of an Oakland Raiders win.
Calm down and try to stay with me. First of all, try to forget all that mumbo-jumbo about big boxes, Internets, suppliers and charging for your labor. Focus on a few facts that will get you thinking straight. By “straight” I mean productively.
Fact #1: You don’t have to buy anything. Most start-up companies fail because of overhead … they over-extend themselves financially. You have zero inventory. You have no product or raw material investment. Your overhead is (and should be) extremely low. You have total control of this element of your business.
Fact #2: You have immediate access to all of the products, destinations and modes of transportation that every single one of your competitors has. The “world” is absolutely and unequivocally at your fingertips.
Fact #3: Your marketplace has limitless boundaries. There are more than 7 billion people in the world (and counting) from which to target. If you don’t think people are moving around these days I want you to ask yourself a few questions:
- Why are smart people continuing to build huge floating hotels and more river cruise ships?
- Why are airlines cramming more seats into less real estate?
- Why can’t you find a parking space in Newark’s long-term parking lot?
Fact #4: People today are fed up with the BS. They are looking for somebody who knows what they are talking about and who they can trust. Your window of “opportunity” is wide open.
Your problem is not the Internet, or the market, or the price of gas. Your problem is that you have not decided to “make it” yet. Your problem is that you are not comfortable with the rules of the game, and you are not skilled yet at your position. You are not doing enough of what needs doing; and in all probability, you are starting to pretend that your business is supposed to be easier than it is. In some cases, you may not even know what you need to do to become successful in the travel business.
If you are interested in busting a few moves in your own personal “happy dance” perhaps it is time to channel Michael Jackson’s The Man In The Mirror. “If you want to make your business a better place, than look in the mirror and make a change.”
If two Russian immigrants who came to America not knowing our language, can serve a fine meal to a stranger in a beautifully appointed home in Chicago–then you can make a go of the most fun, rewarding, and interesting industry our country has to offer.
If you want some help, send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will show you what I have for you. Maybe it is time to make a change.
Mike Marchev shares his down-to-earth business development ideas in an entertaining and easy to listen to style with travel professionals and small business entrepreneurs. He has been doing so since 1984. He can be contacted at Mike@MikeMarchev.com, or www.MikeMarchev.com, or 848-702-1009.