Face it, running a travel business is difficult. While we all have the passion for travel in our blood (and please do not let that be your main selling point—it does not differentiate you), we all have a specific set of skills with which we are proficient. Usually, and unfortunately, there are many more skills needed to effectively and profitably run a travel business with which we are…shall we say less than proficient.
Most of us are based out of our homes and do not have the luxury of a staff. When I had retail locations, my “job” was to sell the agency to clients. I was the “face” of the company and that is what I did well. We grew from a single location doing maybe 3 million a year in sales to a multi-location (including on-sites) agency approaching 20 million. I had a great bookkeeper. I had a European expert. A Caribbean expert. A cruise expert. I had someone with a creative bent that designed brochures and websites for me. And for the rest—I subcontracted it all out. Which is something you should seriously consider.
Operationally, there is nothing that cannot be outsourced. And when I say outsource, I am not necessarily talking about hiring someone to do the work for you. While that is a consideration, and one that is highly effective, there may be other solutions.
Are you not creative like me? I am good with ideas and concepts. Ask me to draw two straight lines, and we have a problem. Do you know a colleague that is incredibly creative? Maybe you can barter some of your concepts with their creativity. You conceptualize a fantastic cruise-focused booth for display at a consumer travel show that has proven to be an effective lead generator. Why not share that vision in return for your colleague designing the graphical elements of the booth?
Is keeping your website up to date a hassle? Do you have a kid who is tech savvy? Would he or she work for “free” in return for a spring-break trip? Maybe you are the creative one and you can design brochures or websites for a local small business accountant in return for some bookkeeping or tax advice.
The point is that we all cannot be jacks-of-all trades and we need to play to our strengths so we can focus on moving our agencies forward. My definition, as a sole proprietor/sole owner, we are responsible for all aspects of running our business, but remember that the most successful businesses have the most successful people running them. Do not be afraid to reach outside of your office to find them.