So, when I fly I don the sound-cancelling headphones and crank the iPod as loud as possible without blowing out my ear drums. This is a sure-fire way to drown out the screaming babies and other sundry noises that can interfere with sleep. Typically this is good enough to have me sleeping before the plane leaves terra firma. Recently while I was flying it didn’t work, and I ended up paying attention to the songs pouring out of my iPod. And it struck me: Pink was singing about some travel agents with her song “Don’t Let Me Get Me.”
Don’t let me get me
I’m my own worst enemy
It’s bad when you annoy yourself
Don’t wanna be my friend no more
I wanna be somebody else
Admittedly, I doubt she really had travel agents in mind when she recorded this song. But as I listened to it, it resonated with me and made me think of quite a few travel agents, including myself at times throughout my career.
I’m my own worst enemy
At some point in our careers most of us probably could have said this, assuming we recognized this as a problem. It took me awhile before I recognized that I was the roadblock that stood between me and a goal. I truly believe when we sabotage ourselves it is subconscious. It may be out of self-doubt or a fear of success (or some combination of the two), or some other reason altogether. The first step is to recognize what you may be doing (even if it’s unintentional) that may be standing in your way. If you know you’re standing in your own way, but you aren’t sure how or why you are doing it, talk it through. Talk to a trusted friend in the industry, or a mentor (I always advocate mentorships!).
Years ago I finally figured out that I was my own worst enemy. Of course the sabotage wasn’t deliberate, but on a subconscious level I was throwing up road blocks right and left. As I stumbled through my business it took some time to realize that I had a fear of success. My husband wants to quit his day job, and I feared that if I had a “good enough year” he’d do just that. I’d become the sole bread winner with a commission-only income. That was a nightmare scenario for me (too much pressure to keep it up). Once you recognize your fear and what you’re doing to prevent your own success, you can address it head on.
But as they always say, the first step is to admit your problem.
I wanna be someone else
This probably jumped out at me a bit more the other day when I was listening to the song on my iPod. It seems we all want to be someone else at some point during our travel career. Maybe it’s the luxury consultant that commands (and gets) $1,000 consultation fees or the agent that has clients spending over $100,000 a year in travel revenue without blinking an eye. We might simply wish we were the agent that actually made a comfortable living as we continue to struggle year to year with our own flailing business. Over the past ten years I have heard plenty of agents lament about how so-and-so seems to have it all together, and they wished they were that person instead.
While it is great to look at other agents and agencies, examining what they are doing right (or better than we are) doesn’t equate to us being failures. Examining others as case studies is great, but don’t try to become them. You aren’t them, and you’ll likely fail at any attempts to imitate them. Instead you should be looking at ways to incorporate their best practices into your business, with your spin on it. For example, you see an agency that’s successfully booking a couple million dollars a year in revenue. The revenue is what catches your eye. What did they do to get there?
Did they specialize in a niche they are truly passionate about? Don’t try to mimic their niche because you think it is lucrative. I have seen more than one agent try to do that with honeymoons and destination weddings. The thinking is that’s where the money is, and if I can break into that niche I’ll succeed. After all, people still honeymoon during recessions, right? What could possibly go wrong? The problem is when you find out you don’t have the patience to work with high-stressed brides (or their mothers!). If you don’t have the patience, temperament, or PASSION to work with brides (or grooms) the niche will fail you miserably. Instead of a lucrative pay day, you may be looking at increased medical bills for all of the migraines you are suffering.
So look at the successful honeymoon/destination wedding specialist you admire, and find out how to apply their best practices to YOUR passion (whether it’s Disney, Irish pubs, riding motorcycles, or Italian cooking). Their success isn’t necessarily because of their niche per se, but instead it’s about their passion for the niche that clients pick up on.
Next time you hear Pink on the radio (or your iPod) don’t blame me if you start applying her lyrics to your business practices.
Susan Schaefer is the owner of Ships ‘N’ Trips Travel (www.shipsntripstravel.com) located in Tennessee, and specializes in leisure travel with a focus on group travel and charity fundraisers. Through their division Kick Butt Vacations (www.kickbuttvacations.com), she focuses on travel for 18 to 23-year-olds. Susan can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at (888) 221-1209.