OK folks, time for some real talk here. We’re friends, right? So if I can take a few minutes and be brutally honest for a few hundred words, I hope to give you something to seriously think about.
Last week, I was listening to the latest TRO Signal (you listen…right?) which was some excerpts from a webinar about never letting a crisis go to waste. The panel was varied; but what struck me was the brutal honesty of the participants. At one point, the moderator, Richard D’Ambrosio, mentioned that he receives lots of questions about legal ramifications. Another panelist fielded many questions from agents about accounting processes. And another was talking about insurance issues.
Look folks, while they are not sexy like Kathie Lee on a Fun Ship, knowledge of legal, accounting and insurance issues is critical to running a business in the best of times. It is more so now. And if you are not comfortable with those issues, you may want to ask yourself a simple question.
Am I cut out to be a business owner?
There’s nothing wrong if you are not. I had one of the best salespeople I had ever seen working for me several years ago. No matter the client, they always went to Jamaica. We once had a married couple in their 70s looking to celebrate a 50th wedding anniversary with a special trip across Europe for ten days. When they left the office, they were headed to Hedonism III. She was THAT good. But for the life of her, she could not figure out invoicing. She’d be a horrible business owner; but with the right partner, they could have reached the moon—as long as it was in Jamaica.
If you are not navigating this pandemic with a written business plan and a written marketing plan, you are setting yourself up for struggles and perhaps outright failure. If you are not sure of the legal ramifications about accepting a check from a client for a cruise, you are setting yourself up.
Take some time and think about it. Is your travel practice truly successful and profitable? Are you as enthusiastic today as you were last year? Ten years ago? If you hemmed or hawed on those, it might be time to call it quits. Change the “travel” shingle for a “for sale” one.
If you do consider selling, remember there is value in your agency even if it is costing you money.
I hopped on the phone (ok so it was the Internet) with Bob Sweeney from Innovative Travel Acquisitions outside of Atlanta. They are the premiere broker/facilitator for travel business sales with nearly 700 travel businesses sold over the past 30 years! Here are his thoughts:
The old Temptations hit “Ball of Confusion” could be the travel distribution industry theme song for 2020. Our industry had the rug pulled out from under us in early March after two solid month. With Congress in slow motion it is like the water around the Titanic, with lots of tiny lifeboats and not much fresh water left.
In this most unique time, many wise owners are opting to join forces with a larger agency as a lighthouse in a safe harbor.
Today all transactions are backend loaded based solely on performance of the book of business for 2021, 2022 and 2023. No cash at closing is the rule right now. Until sellers can show a couple years of traction and recovery it will remain a buyer’s market.
We still hear of folks limiting their buying pool to only buyers in their consortium. Never limit your buying pool. It is like selling your house. Why would you possibly limit the buyers to only people from your county?
The advice I have been giving for decades is to keep your head out of your heart. And right now, the risk of selling a little too early pales compared to the risk of selling a day late.
There it is. More real talk. But if you look at Bob’s website, you will see that there are transactions happening. There is a market. But hands off that Costa Rican Villa..I have my eye on that one!
But in all seriousness, we are in a time where it has never been more crucial to be on the ball and on top of allaspects of your travel practice. When I got into the business, it was still the domain of the wives of wealthy professionals so they could get an IATAN card and travel cheaply. Today…not so much. It’s time to take this seriously and treat the business as a business.
You have two choices—you are in…or you are out. If you are in, make sure you are taking stock of your competencies and build on those that are lacking, bring in a partner, and ride it out to a successful finish. If you are out, well as Bob said, there is great risk in selling too late.
Thoughts? Leave me a comment!