On Saturday, I attended the 117th Annual Army-Navy football game in Baltimore. It is a storied rivalry; some say the best in all sports. The Navy team had a 14-year winning streak and a record-setting season. They are scheduled to play in the Armed Forces Bowl and made the conference championship game last weekend. That game cost them two key players. Yesterday’s starting quarterback was the third stringer. Almost predictably, Navy lost. The streak was done. The bus ride home was surely like none of the ones over the past 14 years. But you know what? Navy will pick themselves up, dust themselves off, and carry on. Just like you need to do when you run into a setback in your travel business.
Travel is not unlike football or any business. There are good days and bad ones. Sometimes you’re the windshield; and sometimes you’re the bug. The secret is all in how you recover.
At the risk of sounding like John Belushi in Animal House, when the airlines eliminated commissions… did we just sit there idly? When the cruise lines implemented “non-commissionable fares”… did we just take it? Of course not. The smart agents figured out how to dust it off and carry on. Lost commissions were replaced by service fees. Lost revenue on cruises were recovered by concerted efforts to up-sell or to switch to a preferred vendor.
Last fall, I had arranged for a group trip for a long weekend. As it was, I did not do my homework. This trip was for single parents and their kids and the dates I selected (and deposited) happened to be leading into the mid-term exams for most of the schools in the area I targeted. I put the trip on sale and immediately got a bunch of pushback. We deposited three people which was not enough to make it happen so we canceled. We disappointed three families and lost some revenue that had been planned. So what did I do? I re-booked the same trip for spring; but only after obtaining the school calendars for the public schools in the targeted area. I just released the trip and have 8 deposits in house.
Last week, my website was hacked. It took my IT guy the better part of a day to straighten it all out. The end result was that while the content remains, all of the bells and whistles had to be removed. Email sign-up forms, slideshows from past trips, that fancy slider at the top highlighting my current trips—all gone. I am the proud owner of a plain vanilla white website. But, after we dusted ourselves off, we decided to use this “opportunity” to refresh the brand. Our logo and style had not been updated in several years, so now was the time. I am looking at website designs and I have a graphic designer working on a new logo. I went out on a limb with her and gave her complete freedom in terms of design and colors. Zero input from me other than the name of the company and what we do. It will be interesting, but I have dusted the hack off and moved along.
Shake it off, do what you can do to improve and move along. It works for the US Naval Academy and it will work for us as well.