Times have changed. There used to be a time when travel professionals went home with red smudges on their hands, welcomed and lauded by the travel suppliers. Not so much any more. If nothing else, today’s travel professional is a survivor. There have been countless times when the industry has been pronounced dead—or at least put on life support. Heck, even President Obama dissed us a few years back. But we learned how to survive. Some of it was trial and error; much of it was sheer determination and planning. We were told to nichify (yes, I invented that word) and we did. We were told that to compete against Travelocity, Expedia, and Orbitz, that we needed to add value to the equation and eschew the transactional nature of the business. But is that really simple to do?
How exactly does one add value to a business transaction? What can travel professionals do that sets them apart from the servers and routers that book a lot of travel? I gave it some thought and spoke with some colleagues to try to figure it out, and here’s our completely subjective map for adding value.
- Make sure you know your stuff. What are your skills? What are you good at? These are the tools that allow you to add value.
- Do what you love. If you don’t love travel, get out. When you do the things you love, adding value comes naturally. Look at Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Dave Grohl, Paul McCartney, and many more. They love what they do and they are successful because the value they add comes naturally. It’s much easier that way!
- If you’re not adding value, get out! If you are not bringing something to the table, you either need to change your ways or get out. It really is that simple.
- Adding value will allow you to reap the rewards. When you come to a fork in the road, always choose the path that allows you to add the most value. This will ultimately bring you greater happiness and greater reward.
- Keep learning and get uncomfortable. Never rest on your laurels. Take a FAM. Do an online course. Change up your business model. Knowledge is key and stepping outside of your comfort zone will sharpen your skills.
- Go ahead and fail. It’s going to happen. We all fail at some point. But push on. If you push through that initial failure, and learn from your mistakes and missteps, you’ll start to improve and eventually you’ll see success!
- Encourage other people. The old adage applies here—you can’t take it with you. Share your knowledge. Help others selflessly. Let someone else know what you learned and let them add their own value into the world.