For as long as I can remember, January 1 has always been my favorite day of the year. I like it even better than my birthday as January 1 is the day we can officially say goodbye to whatever we didn’t like about the previous year, and get going on whatever new goals we have set for ourselves.
In the luxury travel world, I especially like January 1 for the opportunity it gives me to breathe deep after an insanely busy holiday travel season and reset as we look forward to the upcoming trips our clients are asking us to plan for 2016. All of a sudden, Spring Break and summer vacation periods aren’t so far away, and this translates to getting back to what we do best—creative luxury travel planning for fascinating people who desire to experience the world.
This particular holiday season I chose to stay at home instead of traveling and working remotely. It gave me the time I rarely have to think about what is most important to my company as we grow (revenue was up 20% last year!) and to put some new plans into action. We implemented weekly calls for my team to review in depth the status of every booking on the future books. Doing so is enabling us to better manage the entire process, from initial request through to actual travel dates, as anyone who sells travel knows can be challenging. With so many details to manage along the way, we can’t risk missing anything. Using a new web-based, digital organizational chart has been extremely helpful to us in recent months and not a day goes by that I don’t devote time to studying “the board”. Staying organized and not getting overwhelmed by my inbox tops my priority list for 2016.
We also reviewed each IC’s production for 2015 and decided to implement minimum sales quotas. We did this to ensure that anyone affiliated with my company is interested in a serious long-term career in luxury travel. We don’t want to be known as the company that lets just anyone sign on; we are only interested in true quality growth which will come with the addition of ICs who have a plan for how they will hit the sales goals. In addition, we are stepping up the level of education we are offering our ICs with the hiring of a Sabre trainer and implementing bi-weekly calls with select suppliers to further enhance the level of knowledge across the board of key products we are selling to our clients.
I also look at January 1 as an opportunity to set a lot of new personal goals, most notably, trying a lot of fun, new things, and doing things differently than in the past. So far, I’ve been successful in that I’ve added “cardio dance” classes to my fitness regime (I’m not a naturally good dancer so this was a big challenge for me!). I also went on a blind date for the first time in six years. That was also kind of scary, but fun. I decided to trade in my sporty convertible for a more spacious, comfortable new SUV so that I can go on road trips with my three rescued pups instead of flying across the world as often as I’ve done in the past. I’ve already booked a trip up to Napa to visit hotels and will plan others soon. And, I completely redecorated my apartment, including my home office, which has led me to want to spend a good deal more time in it as it’s clean, modern and so far, clutter free!
Whatever you need to do in order to get your 2016 off to a new and different start, my best advice is to start now. It’s still January, and never too late to set goals on how you can enhance and improve your life on both the business and personal front!
Stacy Small is the president/founder of Elite Travel International, an LA-based Virtuoso travel firm. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram at @elitetravelgal.