A few weeks ago, I saw a post on Instagram that said, “Live, Learn and Upgrade.” This particular post hit me on multiple levels as it was a week filled with challenges, both business and personal. As a luxury travel business owner, I’m a nonstop student in ways to successfully manage and learn from mistakes and things that appear to be obstacles. In my personal life, I’ve learned it also makes the most sense to learn from challenges and grow from them rather than take things personally and let them add unnecessary stress to my life.
What do I mean from this and how can you apply this “Live, Learn and Upgrade” philosophy to your own luxury travel career? For starters, surrounding yourself by hard-working, focused, smart, and detail-oriented people is the best way to ensure that you can sleep well at night. If you are dedicated to your clients and pride yourself on triple checking the details of every single booking and not making careless mistakes (names spelled wrong, dates listed incorrectly, or errors on quoted rates) then it just doesn’t work to have someone working for you who is not as focused.
Mistakes will happen, we are all human, but it’s how you own them and quickly resolve them that clients will remember. But, when a top client emails you in a panic because your associate emailed a copy of the itinerary for a surprise birthday trip for his wife to her by mistake, that’s when you know it’s time to make a change. It’s time to take stock of what type of person you need supporting you on your team and make a major upgrade. Fortunately, a recent law school graduate who decided to choose luxury travel over law had contacted me to inquire about an internship. She’s not only the best intern I’ve ever had, but after quickly proving how competent she is, she was speedily promoted to my top support position and has accomplished more for me and my clients in two weeks than several assistants had been able to do in months.
On another note, we have also upgraded the level of Independent Contractor we will hire to work with my company and introduced minimum sales quotas as a way to ensure we are all focused on the same goal: a lucrative and fulfilling career in luxury travel. Since the start of 2016, we have hired four incredible people to work with us from Philadelphia to Atlanta to Dallas and DC. They all have different backgrounds from financial planning to travel writing, but share the common goals noted above as well as a passion for luxury travel and knowledge of the world in a first-hand way. The new additions to the team are major “upgrades” from some of the associates we had working with us in the past, and we have held strong to our policy of not hiring anyone who doesn’t answer “I want to be a million-dollar producer” when we ask their goal for the near-term future.
Setting goals and crushing them has always been fun for me, and it’s even more fun to be running a company filled with others who feel the same way. When you are operating at less-than-optimum capacity, which happens when you have people on the team who are not in the same caliber of the A-listers, it’s inevitable that challenges will arise.
No business owner should shy away from upgrading any segment of the business at any time. This is how the company will thrive and grow. I’ve recently decided to invest heavily in a major digital revamp which will be unveiled this year and while it’s a costly investment of money and my time, nothing makes me more excited than the opportunity to innovate at a high level and continue to set the pace for the new generation of luxury travel advisors as well as their clients!
Stacy Small is the president/founder of Elite Travel International, an LA-based Virtuoso travel firm. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram at @elitetravelgal.