Reaching the Summit | TravelResearchOnline


Reaching the Summit

I have just returned from a five day, solo backpacking adventure on a seventy-five-mile section of the Pacific Crest Trail in Washington’s Cascade mountains. You may remember the PCT, the west coast version of the Appalachian Trail, from the bestselling book and movie, Wild.

One of the things I most enjoy about solo backpacking is being fully responsible for myself and my actions. If you did the math, I hiked an average of fifteen miles per day with a lot more uphill than down. If I am forty miles in the backcountry and decide to quit, I can’t simply call someone to pick me up.

I am an avid day hiker and have done a number of one-two night back packing trips – I have even climbed Mount Rainier. Whether it’s getting to the top of the next pass or rationing water until the next water source, I find it easier to stay mentally focused when I have a goal, but I had no idea how physically challenging this endeavor would be.

Towards the end of the second day, I had already hiked fifteen miles with one to go. This last mile included a modest five hundred feet of elevation gain before reaching camp at the top of Cathedral Pass. I was exhausted and “bonked.” In other words, I ran out of gas. My legs were like jelly and could go no further. As I sat there on the side of the trail, I quickly realized that I was out in the middle of one of the most remote sections of the entire PCT. No one was going to come and get me, bring me water, or carry my forty-five-pound pack to the top. It was just me and the mountain. I had to dig deep. It took me two hours to cover a distance and elevation that I would normally do in less than thirty-five minutes. I literally willed myself up that mountain. When I reached camp at the top of the pass, I felt the exhilaration one experiences after feeling defeated, then accomplishing a major goal.

Ironically, I received an email containing a quote from William Baker when I got home. “Enlightenment means taking full responsibility for your life.” Full responsibility…

As I fell back into my work routine, two things struck me. First, how strange it felt not to be hauling around forty-five pounds on my back for 10 hours a day and second, not a day goes by when I don’t hear or read of someone complaining that they don’t have enough leads, their consortia marketing isn’t working, or their host agency is taking too much commission and not doing enough to support them.

We choose to sell travel, whether to supplement our income or as a full-time profession, yet so many expect success to simply be handed to them. When it is not, they start blaming others. If you don’t believe me, just spend a few minutes perusing several of the many travel agent support groups on Facebook.

Selling travel is no different than any other profession and it’s not that hard – if you follow a systematic process. And don’t think that joining an organization which provides leads to their members is a guarantee to success. It is not. There is a significant percentage of agents who fail when they discover that even provided leads are not the magic bullet they are seeking.

It’s time they realize this is their business – not their consortia or host, but their own. They are solely and fully responsible for its success or failure. If business is good, feel free to take as much credit as they deserve. If not, they must be willing to acknowledge their situation and take full responsibility for their actions for remediation.

Some of you may be angry at me for being blunt and unapologetic, but I can promise you there are many more folks who are frustrated with those who won’t or can’t take responsibility for their businesses (see same Facebook forums.)

It doesn’t have to be this way. A periodic, thorough and frank assessment of your Skills, Habits, Inspiration and Performance will help you to stay focused on what’s important to your business.

There are times we all have to dig deep and figure out how to get to the top of our own mountains. When we reach the summit, the rewards can be enlightening.

Picture Dan Chappelle specializes in helping sales professionals achieve their full potential by thinking BIGGER, working SMARTER, and producing real RESULTS.

Dan Chappelle is a professional sales coach, business advisor, author, and speaker. His specialty is Sales Acceleration.

His training and consulting firm helps develop sales oriented business leaders. In addition to working with individual salespeople and entrepreneurs, his corporate clients include AAA, Cruise Planners, Ensemble Travel Group, and Travel Leaders Group. His best-selling book, Get Your S.H.I.P. Together: The Wealthy Travel Agent Guide to Sales, is available on For information on Dan’s Sales Acceleration programs, visit:

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