So, how is your month going? This column is supposed to be about the trials, tribulations and triumphs of Travel Agent’ing. And I’ll get to that. I promise.
Who was it that said “Life is what happens while you’re making other plans?” If I find out, I am going to find him or her and tell them truer words were never spoken.
Forgive me for being personal and all here, but let me lay it out for you – I am 54 and childless, not necessarily a choice I made…just the way life turned out. And for the last 15 years or so, I’ve been okay with that. So last month I became the guardian of my niece and two nephews (collectively known as “the keikis”, and I am da kine anakala–yes, we speak a little pidgin Hawaiian from time to time to maintain my cred as a California surfer dude). So now I have 3 kids, 11, 13 and almost 15. In one sense it’s not a big deal – I have always spent considerable time with them, coaching little league, going on cruises and road trips, etc. But the “everydayness” of it is a little overwhelming. Making it formal has also required a ridiculous amount of bureaucracy. As of right now, the keikis officially belong to the State of California, who can make me take them for medical check ups, even though they are healthy, make me lock up the window cleaner and peroxide they’ve been using all their lives, etc. Leaving them in their schools (and the last thing they need is a mid-year transfer) requires that I drive them. Of course, that’s 3 different schools with 3 different schedules. You get the picture.
I know all of you parents out there probably think I am being a wuss. But chances are good that you probably started this a long time ago, and had this part over before you turned 40. So that’s one thing that happened last month that wasn’t really in “The Plan.”
And the other is that, after 9 years as a travel agent, a year and a half of building this Host Agency, along came a detour. One of my favorite suppliers, announced a dramatic expansion of their field sales force. And one of the new territories is in my back yard. As long as I have been in this business, the only corporate-type job that’s ever attracted me has been BDM. It’s my kind of sales. Out in the field, schmoozing travel agents, with minimum supervision and inside-the-company bureaucracy. I hadn’t sought out such a position previously because they all required a move, and I’m just not in a position to do that.
Over the course of 35 years in sales, I am used to the financial ups and downs of commission work. But I find, as I get older, the idea of a steady check and maybe some benefits are appealing. My last 401(k) got sucked up in a divorce, and starting my previous business. A new one might be nice. That sort of thing. Of course, this all comes up just as I am getting the keikis, and that seems one more reason to settle in to a more 9-5ish existence. As all of you who have ever run a business know, it is very time-consuming. I routinely devote 80 hours a week to this.
Don’t get me wrong, I love doing it. But it is predicated on having 80 hours a week to give, and I am not certain I will have that. But a major job change wasn’t really in The Plan, either.
So, I’ve thrown my hat in the ring, and now I sit agonizing. If they like me, this will most likely be my last column…if not, I’ll just keep on keeping on. I will surely let you know, either way.
Now, let’s get to the travel agency part of this – February was almost as good as our record-breaking January. Based on the last 3 months of our sales, I think this is a great time to be in the travel business. Quick and to the point.
UPDATE: Just got word they “went in a different direction.” Which is probably for the best, because the logistics were becoming rather daunting. While I can’t say I am not a little disappointed, the fact is, two days before they called me I almost called them to withdraw my application. Then I remembered a good friend once told me that I am almost cat-like in my ability to land on my feet. I believe that’s because I have faith, and don’t try to force things. Sometimes, you just cast your bread on the water and see what happens. So, that’s what happened.
Which means, for now, I get back to The Plan, and continue to grow this business. It really is a great time to be a travel agent and I am hearing the same from lots of my friends/colleagues.
Dave Holman is a Partner at Bridges & Holman Worldwide Travel, based out of Southern California, with 9 years experience in the travel industry. He will draw on his past experience as a serial entrepreneur, as well as his time as a hosted agent at Coral Sands Travel and Expedia Cruise Ship Centers/OVC, as he builds and manages his (relatively) new Host Agency. You can contact Dave via his website at www.holmantravel.com, or better yet, through his Facebook page at www.facebook.com/DaveHolmanTravel.