I started writing this article many months ago as my busy season started in May. We have now come to the end of November, finally having a chance to complete it, so perhaps this is a year in review with still a month to go. I have written many articles in the past for TRO about issues in the industry and how I feel they should be handled; and also about concerns of the challenges we all face in this volatile world in which we live. It has been a year like Grand Central Station – crazy busy where I thought I had reached a saturation point and not knowing what to do. I thought I had reached my limit and perhaps many of you have felt this way at times. Business has been excellent, as I have read from many this year, which is a good issue to have, especially when you are self-employed as I am. It can also be bad, as there has to be a balance.
I still have clients traveling this year and 2016 is looking good, as well; but what do you do when you feel you have hit the wall, which many times during the year I had? Perhaps if I had had the time to write earlier, answers would have been presented or suggested. I am a one person operation as many of you may be and which is different from bigger companies, so the challenges are different.
I read an article the other day about how many people are coming back to us, which is excellent news. And the surveys show that OTA’s are not even doing well. That is excellent for us as people realize that coming to a travel professional will actually save them money and time and give them piece of mind. This is good for 2016 and beyond for all of us who are willing to change with the times, which they are a changing—thank you Bob Dylan. With the events of Paris, Turkey, Egypt, Lebanon, Mali and anywhere else the ugliness will present itself, even our own country, this will be a concern for us for quite some time. As the paradigm shifts again, those willing to change will succeed as we address concerns of humanity, compassion, safety and fears—real and perceived.
I have been asked by many of my clients if Europe is safe. I remember being asked whether Mexico was safe with the drug cartels. I am happy to give my opinion on the subject and allow my clients to make up their own minds armed with a sense of reality. I have been to Europe three times this year, once to Mexico and even to Morocco; so I will not allow what is happening in the world to stop my explorations of this great planet. I would be a hypocrite if I stopped. I have expanded business to other destinations in the world beyond my core business.
We have all heard that you should have a niche or expertise. And while I feel this is still true, one has to be open to gaining credibility in other destinations and establish relationships with new suppliers. With the instability in many destinations, establishing relationships with inbound companies is critical. They are on the ground in the different regions and often are a great source of first-hand information that a tour operator cannot handle.
As the year comes to an end, saturation of business has evolved into a saturation of issues we all face—with more intensity now. If we are able to weather these issues, we will succeed since people are coming back to us more and more with concerns of the ever-evolving world situations. This is something the OTA’s can’t do—even poorly.
Jamison Bachrach has traveled to over 50 countries, including most of Europe. Wandering Puffin LLC. Is located in Minneapolis, MN. Jamison can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 763-244-0669. www.wanderingpuffin.com.